Galactorrhea (say "guh-lak-tuh-REE-uh") happens when a woman's breasts make milk but the woman is not pregnant. The milk may leak from one or both breasts. Sometimes milk leaks only when the breast is touched. At other times, milk leaks without any touching. Galactorrhea can also happen in men, but this is rare.
Some medicines used to treat depression or high blood pressure can cause galactorrhea. It can also be caused by some hormone medicines, such as birth control pills, and medicines for some mental illnesses.
Herbs such as anise, fennel, and fenugreek seed can lead to galactorrhea. Other causes include having low levels of thyroid hormone and having a tumour in the pituitary gland. Your doctor may suggest more testing to find the cause. But often a cause cannot be found.
You may need to take medicine such as thyroid pills to treat low thyroid levels. Or you may need to stop a medicine that is causing the problem. In some cases, galactorrhea goes away without treatment. But if it is caused by a tumour, you may need surgery to remove the tumour.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: October 13, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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