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What Do You Do If You Have Galactorrhea? Causes & Treatment

Galactorrhea occurs when a milky or milk-like discharge leaks out of your nipples. Learn about causes, diagnosis, and treatment

Galactorrhea occurs when a milky or milk-like discharge leaks out of your nipples. If you are experiencing galactorrhea, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will first try to find out what’s causing it and determine whether you have also been experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Amenorrhea (skipping menstrual periods for 2 or more months)
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Headache
  • Reduced sex drive
  • New hair growth on the chest or chin
  • Acne
  • Erectile dysfunction (in men)

How is galactorrhea diagnosed?

Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your breast, pressing your nipples to look at the discharge and feeling for any lumps or hardness in your breast. They may also order tests including:

  • Nipple discharge analysis (to see if fat is present) 
  • Blood tests to check for elevated prolactin level or thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level
  • Pregnancy test
  • Mammography or ultrasound of the breast
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain

How is galactorrhea treated?

In most cases, your doctor may recommend treatment depending on the underlying cause of the condition. Treatment may include:

  • Discontinuing medications that may be causing galactorrhea as a side effect and prescribing an alternative medication in its place
  • Prescribing medications that target prolactin production in your body such as:
    • Levothyroxine for hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
    • Bromocriptine
    • Cabergoline
  • Avoiding activities that may be causing galactorrhea such as:
    • Repeatedly stimulating your breasts and nipples
    • Conducting breast exams more often than once a month
    • Wearing clothes that irritate the breasts through rubbing or chafing
  • Treatments to shrink the pituitary tumor (if a pituitary tumor is the cause):
    • Medications
    • Surgery
    • Radiation

Using breast pads (absorbent liners placed in the bra) can help absorb milk leakage.


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Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2021




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