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    Galactorrhea

    • Overview

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      Galactorrhea (guh-lack-toe-REE-uh) refers to a milky discharge from the nipples that isn’t related to the normal milk production during breastfeeding. While galactorrhea isn’t a disease on its own, it may indicate an underlying issue. Although it’s more common in women, even those who haven’t given birth or are postmenopausal, it can also occur in men and infants.

      Several factors can contribute to galactorrhea, including excessive breast stimulation, medication side effects, or disorders of the pituitary gland. Frequently, elevated levels of prolactin, a hormone responsible for milk production, lead to galactorrhea.

      In some cases, the cause of galactorrhea remains unclear, and the condition may resolve spontaneously over time.

    • Symptoms

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      Signs and symptoms linked with galactorrhea encompass:

      1. Ongoing or sporadic milky nipple discharge
      2. Nipple discharge affecting several milk ducts
      3. Spontaneously occurring or manually expressed nipple discharge
      4. Involvement of one or both breasts
      5. Irregular or absent menstrual periods
      6. Experiencing headaches or vision issues
    • When to see a doctor

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      Abnormal symptoms may be a warning sign of potential dangerous diseases. Please contact our team of doctors immediately for detailed advice and update the most accurate and appropriate health care method.

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    • Causes

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      Galactorrhea often arises due to elevated levels of prolactin, a hormone primarily responsible for milk production during lactation. Prolactin is synthesized by the pituitary gland, a small gland located at the base of the brain that regulates various hormones.

      Potential causes of galactorrhea encompass:

      1. Certain medications, including sedatives, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and some blood pressure drugs
      2. Usage of opioids
      3. Herbal supplements like fennel, anise, or fenugreek seed
      4. Birth control pills
      5. Presence of a noncancerous pituitary tumor (prolactinoma) or other pituitary gland disorders
      6. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
      7. Chronic kidney disease
      8. Excessive breast stimulation, possibly due to sexual activity, frequent breast self-exams, or prolonged clothing friction
      9. Nerve damage to the chest wall from surgeries, burns, or injuries
      10. Spinal cord surgery, injury, or tumors
      11. Stress

       

      Idiopathic Galactorrhea

      In certain instances, the origin of galactorrhea eludes medical detection, leading to what is known as idiopathic galactorrhea. This could signify that your breast tissue possesses heightened sensitivity to prolactin—a hormone crucial for milk production within your bloodstream. Such elevated sensitivity can result in galactorrhea, even with normal prolactin levels.

      Galactorrhea in Males

      Among men, galactorrhea might be linked to testosterone deficiency, commonly referred to as male hypogonadism. This occurrence usually coincides with breast enlargement or tenderness (gynecomastia). Erectile dysfunction and diminished sexual desire also tend to accompany testosterone deficiency.

      Galactorrhea in Newborns

      Galactorrhea occasionally manifests in newborns. Elevated maternal estrogen levels cross the placenta, entering the infant’s bloodstream. This can lead to breast tissue enlargement in the baby, often accompanied by milky nipple discharge. This temporary discharge typically resolves on its own. If it persists, a doctor’s evaluation is recommended.

    • Risk factors

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      Galactorrhea risk factors include hormonal imbalances, particularly elevated prolactin levels. Conditions like hypothyroidism and chronic kidney disease can contribute to its development. Certain medications, such as sedatives, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, may increase the risk. Prolactinoma, a noncancerous pituitary tumor, and other pituitary gland disorders are also associated with galactorrhea. Breast stimulation, either due to sexual activity or frequent self-exams, and nerve damage to the chest wall from surgery or injuries, can elevate the risk. Recognizing these factors and seeking timely medical evaluation can aid in both prevention and management of galactorrhea.

    • Prevention

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      Preventing galactorrhea involves addressing its underlying causes. Maintaining hormonal balance through proper management of conditions like hypothyroidism and kidney disease can help prevent its onset. Avoiding medications or herbal supplements known to induce galactorrhea, under medical guidance, is important. For those with elevated prolactin levels, close monitoring and appropriate treatment can mitigate the risk. In some cases, reducing breast stimulation and avoiding excessive nipple manipulation may help prevent galactorrhea. Early identification of risk factors and regular medical check-ups contribute to effective prevention strategies for this milky nipple discharge condition.

    • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

    Content Details

    Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

    Last updated on: 06/08/2023