Galactorrhea is a condition in which there would be milky discharge from the nipples. It is not usual milk production while breast feeding the baby and it can occur in men and even on children. Very often this condition is observed in women but sometimes it can develop on men. Any problem in the pituitary gland and adverse effect of certain medicines can cause this disorder. The milk like secretion occurs when there is increased production of prolactin hormone which in turn triggers milk secretion.
There would be milky secretion from the nipples causing wetness on the breast area. It may occur either on both the breasts or on one side and there may be continuous milk production or irregular secretion of milk from the nipple. Again the milk secretion occur spontaneously or when the person manually press the breast to take out the milk.
Women affected with galactorrhea may have irregular periods and sometimes the menstrual cycles are totally absent. She may be under the treatment for hormone problem and continuously using medications.
In rare cases, there would be yellowish or reddish secretion from the nipples which is indicative of breast cancer.
Very often, this disorder is caused due to hormonal imbalance. Prolactin hormone is produced in excess triggering milk secretion. It is the hormone that is responsible for lactation when a woman becomes pregnant. Pituitary gland induces the production of this hormone at regular intervals whenever there is a need for breastfeeding the child.
Chronic emotional stress and prolonged usage of herbal products like fenugreek seeds and fennel can trigger milky secretion.
People who are using birth control pills for long periods or using tranquilizers or anti-depression drugs for long can have this problem. Hypothyroidism can trigger prolactin hormone producing milk. People with chronic kidney problem and those with tumor in the pituitary gland can get galactorrhea.
In rare cases, excessive stimulation of the breast and wearing friction producing clothing on the breast area can cause milk secretion. Sometimes, the exact cause may not be known and the person becomes sensitive to prolactin triggering milky discharge.
In men galactorrhea is observed in people with deficiency of testosterone and with erectile dysfunction problem. Men who are addicted to illicit drugs like heroin and marijuana can also face this problem. Milk discharge is also seen on newborn child who have got high estrogen level through his mother.
Your doctor will physically examine the breast to identify any lumps in the breast area. He may also make analysis of the milky fluid to verify any trace of blood. For many people, blood test is done for checking the levels of prolactin hormone and TSH level.
In rare cases, MRI testing is done for ruling out any abnormal tumor in pituitary gland.
Galactorrhea can be treated well if your doctor could find out the underlying cause. In case you are using powerful medications that trigger milk secretion, then you can consult your doctor to switchover to alternative medication. If the problem is due to hypothyroidism, you need to take levothyroxine to lower the hormone secretion.
Whatever may be the cause; your doctor will have to obstruct the levels of prolactin hormone that produces milky secretion. If pituitary tumor is identified, it should be shrunk or surgically removed.
In case if none of the above therapy responds then your doctor may consider surgery for removing the milk ducts permanently. Since the situation can be embarrassing for the person, surgery is the last option for stopping the milky discharge from the nipple.
Lifestyle Modification :
Very often, the condition of galactorrhea will reduce on its own without starting any treatment. However you can reduce the chance of milky secretion by not touching the nipples while having sex and by wearing loose clothing on your breasts for reducing friction on your nipples. For getting temporary relief you can use breast pads that would absorb leakage effectively.