Galactorrhea or lactorrhea is the condition in which there is leakage of milk from the breast of a person both male and female and even an infant. The reason for the same can be due to medicines, hormone disorders, or stimulation. The discharge of milk can happen at any time when you touch your nipples or even when it is not touched.

Galactorrhea can be a symptom of some abnormality with the body or hormone imbalance, also, it can be because of prolactin. Condition milk leakage is very common and it can be seen in around 20 percent of the population with minor symptoms. The condition is more common in women than in men as they are the ones responsible for breastfeeding.

To understand galactorrhea it is important to know how milk production takes place in the human body. Milk production begins in the women's breast when they are pregnant, the hormone signals the mammary glands for the production of milk for the child.

There are a lot of vital organs and hormones involved in the release of milk. Some of them are:

  • Alveoli. This sac produces and stores milk.

  • Milk ducts. This carries the milk from the alveoli to the nipples.

  • Areola. This is the area surrounding the nipple and is dark in color. This produces a sensation and indicates the hormones to release the milk.

  • Nipple. They contain very tiny pores that help the milk to come out of the breast.

Galactorrhea: Causes

Galactorrhea happens when the pituitary gland produces too much Prolactin. This hormone is responsible for the production of milk, the excess milk that produces needs to release otherwise, it will cause further pain and infection. The leakage is caused due to this release. This can happen in any gender. Also, this condition is common in infants.

The following are the important causes of developing Galactorrhea:

  • Medicines. Galactorrhea may happen due to the use of certain medications like birth control pills, blood pressure control, antidepressants, and diabetes.

  • Gender. Cases of galactorrhea are more in women than in men.

  • Infants. Infants also suffer from this problem and it generally goes away in a matter of time.

  • Thyroid. Thyroid too causes milk release problems.

  • Anxiety and stress, personality disorders, and other issues can cause hormonal changes in the body and can cause irregular lactation.

  • Breast stimulation and excessive use of the breast in sexual intercourse may arouse hormonal simulation that can cause lactation.

  • Breast cancer. Cancer and tumors are one of the most important reasons for lactorrhea. Tumors can affect the hormones of the breast and discharge of milk is common.

  • Injury. Injury to the chest due to an accident or any damage to the chest region may also cause lactation.

  • Some people also take herbal supplements to increase the size of the breasts like fenugreek, fennel seeds, etc. overdose of these supplements can cause milk leakage.

  • Kidney disease is also associated with galactorrhea.

Galactorrhea: Symptoms

A symptom of galactorrhea is the release of white milk-like discharge from either or both of the breasts. This can happen to either sex male or female and can happen to infants too.

  • Infection in the vagina is also a symptom

  • Some of the symptoms may cause headaches

  • Dryness in the vagina

  • Nausea and weakness

  • Menstrual periods get also affected by this condition

  • Blurry vision

  • Less sexual drive

  • Pain in the breasts

  • New hair growing in the chest area

Galactorrhea: Risk Factors

Several factors play an important role in the development of Galactorrhea which includes:

  • Sex. Galactorrhea cases are more in women than in men.

  • Age. Leakage of milk is a known condition for infants and people who are at adolescent age and had recent pregnancies.

  • Diseases. Patients suffering from other hormonal diseases like thyroid are at greater risk for this problem.

  • Personality disorder. Personality disorders like anxiety and stress, bipolar, and borderline can cause hormonal changes in the body and can cause irregular lactation.

  • Sexual intercourse. During sexual intercourse, breast stimulation plays an important role and some people overdo this and may suffer breast-related issues.

  • Cancer and tumors. People suffering from cancer and tumor are also at risk for galactorrhea.

  • Medicines. Some of the medicines which are used to treat other underlying diseases can cause galactorrhea.

  • Accidents. A person who has suffered Injuries to the chest can develop a leakage problem.

  • Supplements. Uses of supplements to correct or increase the size of the breasts like fenugreek, fennel seeds, etc. increases the risk for lactation.

Galactorrhea: Diagnosis

The diagnosis of Galactorrhea is mainly done based on observation and some of the tests may be required for confirmation and to rule out underlying causes:-

  • Physical examination. The doctor will physically examine your breasts and look for signs of abnormality in the nipples and other areas of sensation. He will also ask about the recent injury and will look for signs of any infection.

  • X-rays. X-rays may be used to check for another injury to the chest.

  • MRI. Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a useful modern technique used for imaging tumors and other issues related to the abnormality of the pituitary glands that secrete the hormone responsible for lactation.

  • Ultrasound. These scans are also useful along with all the above tests to confirm lumps in the breasts or nipples.

  • Blood test. This test provides the result of an infection in the blood and also confirms thyroid and other diseases.

  • Pregnancy test. Pregnancy can also be a reason for abnormal lactation.

Galactorrhea: Treatment

The treatment is based on the severity of the symptoms. Your doctor may advise any of the under-mentioned treatments.

  • Medicines. Galactorrhea can happen due to some medication and the same needs to be stopped immediately in consultation with the doctor.

  • Thyroid treatment. Get your thyroid levels checked and start taking prescribed medication for it.

  • Try to avoid over-sensation in your breast area that triggers the hormone for lactation.

  • Breast cancer & tumor treatment. If the tumor or cancer is diagnosed the removal of the same may be suggested by your doctor.

Galactorrhea: Prevention

Some of the measures that can help to prevent Galactorrhea include:

  • Do not touch your breast unnecessarily.

  • Keep your breast free of any infection.

  • Wear a loose cloth to avoid nipples getting in contact with it.

  • Check for any irregular levels of thyroid or infection.

  • Do a pregnancy test.

  • Look for any lumps in the breast.

  • Look for any signs of changes in the nipple and nipple region.

  • Try to identify the milk or puss that comes from the nipple.

  • Do not try to drain the excess milk and consult your doctor.

  • Do not use any supplement for the enlargement of your breast.

  • Do not go for any surgery to perfect your shape.

  • Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding is very important to keep your breast away from infection and cancer.


Galactorrhea or lactorrhea is a condition that causes milk to flow from a person's breast, whether they are male or female, and even an infant. This is normal and can happen to anyone, especially to women. The reason for this condition is various due to any abnormality with the hormone responsible for lactation. It is important to diagnose the cause and treat it accordingly. Proper prevention care, self-examination, hygiene, etc. are very important for this syndrome to treat.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha


Updated on: 18-May-2023


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