Causes, Symptoms, Myths and Facts
Some time ago, my 18-year-old younger sister called me on a random morning complaining about her right breast. One of her breasts had been secreting milk for a few days. My heart skipped a beat, No jokes. Your first guess is as good as mine. As a yoruba girl that I am, the first question that came to mind, Are you pregnant?
At that point, my heart was racing. No, she answered. "Thank God" was my next response with a heavy sigh of relief. I had to refer her to see a doctor as I was still in pharmacy school at that time.
What is Galactorrhea?
Galactorrhea is a condition where a woman's breast(s) produces milk or milky discharge even though she is neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. It may come from one or both breasts, whether sensitized or not, maybe heavy or light in amount.
Is it only women that experience galactorrhea?
No, Men can experience galactorrhea.
Men with testerone deficiency and breast enlargement with tenderness can experience milky discharge from their breasts.
Is this normal?
It may and may not be normal. Most times, apart from pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is usually an underlying cause that caused an increase in the hormone called PROLACTIN ( the hormone responsible for milk production). The causes include:
Excessive breast and nipple stimulation during sexual activity, breast examination or constant friction when wearing clothes.
Use of medications such as antihypertensives, anti-depressants and some birth control pills.
Chronic kidney disease
Certain herbal supplements
Are there other accompanying symptoms with Galactorrhea?
Yes, this is because the underlying condition has varying symptoms such as:
Irregular or absent menstrual periods
Enlargement of breasts
Abnormal hair growth
Loss or lowered sex drives
Headaches of vision problem
Erectile dysfunction in men
Is Galactorrhea linked to breast cancer?
No, most cases of galactorrhea are not related to breast cancer. In many cases, the condition goes away on it own. Although, women with high prolactin levels are at higher risk of breast cancer. Consult a doctor if you have any form of breast discharge to rule out any possibility.