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Galactorrhea

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What is galactorrhea?

Galactorrhea is a milky discharge from your nipples. When you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, galactorrhea may be a sign of other conditions. The discharge may leak on its own, or it might happen when your breasts are touched. Galactorrhea is more common in women, but it can happen in men and infants also.

What causes galactorrhea?

The cause of your galactorrhea may not be known. Common causes include the following:

  • Medicines
  • Breast stimulation
  • Pituitary conditions such as tumors or Cushing disease
  • Increase of the hormone prolactin
  • A drop in the mother's hormone levels in an infant after birth

What symptoms are common with galactorrhea?

Symptoms will depend on the cause of your galactorrhea. You may have any of the following:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Headaches
  • Problems with your vision, such as partial blindness
  • Fatigue and weakness that gets worse
  • Trouble sleeping

How is galactorrhea diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask what medicines you are taking. He will do a breast exam. In females, blood tests may be done to check for pregnancy. The blood tests may show changes in hormone levels or problems with your thyroid, liver, or kidney function. Your healthcare provider may give you a vision test. You may need an MRI of your brain to check for a tumor.

How is galactorrhea treated?

The treatment of galactorrhea depends on the cause. Your healthcare provider may have you stop taking the medicines that are causing your galactorrhea. You may need to see a specialist. You may not need any treatment. Galactorrhea can go away on its own.

What can I do to manage galactorrhea?

Avoid breast stimulation. Wear loose clothing, and do not squeeze or rub your breasts. Stimulation signals hormones to produce the milky discharge.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your breasts become swollen and tender.
  • You become irritable and you do not feel well.
  • You have severe thirst and urinate large amounts often.
  • You develop dizziness, weakness, and fatigue.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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