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Lactation is the process of producing breast milk. For women who are pregnant or recently gave birth, lactation is normal. Hormones al the mammary glands in your body to start producing milk to feed the baby. This is called galactorrhea, and it can happen for a variety of reasons. Galactorrhea happens to around 20 to 25 percent of women, according to Dr. The condition is most common in women, but can also happen to men and newborn babies. Galactorrhea has a wide variety of different causes, and in some cases, the cause is hard to pinpoint. Reasons for lactating when not recently pregnant can range from hormone imbalances to medication side effects to other health conditions.
The most common cause of breast milk production is an elevation of a hormone produced in the brain called prolactin. Elevation of prolactin can be milking breasts by:. Regular use of certain drugs, like opiatesmarijuanaand cocainecan trigger lactation without pregnancy.
They will need to consider this when diagnosing your galactorrhea. For some people, having regular breast stimulation may trigger galactorrhea.
This can be stimulation during sexual activity, from frequent breast self-exams, or from clothing that rubs against the nipples. Mothers who are adopting babies and wish to breast-feed milking breasts prepare their breasts and increase prolactin levels with pumping. Your doctor will ask about family history and then may do a few tests to determine the cause. The doctor will also do a physical breast exam. They may try to express some of the discharge for examination in a lab. Some things can be done on your own, like avoiding tight clothing and reducing the amount of nipple stimulation during sexual activities.
Other treatments need to be supervised by your doctor, like changing medications for example, switching to a different antidepressant or taking additional medications to regulate hormones. But he points out that it can take a few months for milk production to stop, even after discontinuing medication. Your doctor will likely do more tests. Ross says medication can be given to bring down high prolactin s. Many of the causes of galactorrhea, like hormonal imbalances, tumors, or other medical conditions, are beyond our control.
But there are a few things you can do at home to reduce your likelihood of lactating while not pregnant, including:. The good news is that galactorrhea typically either goes away on its own or after medical treatment for its underlying cause. But if the discharge coming from your nipples is not milky and looks clear, bloody, or yellow, this is cause for concern.
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Call your doctor if you experience abnormal vaginal bleeding. Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph. Symptoms Lactation is the process of producing breast milk. Elevation of prolactin can be caused by: medications underlying medical issues a tumor overstimulation of the nipples Other causes include the following. Medications Some medications may cause galactorrhea.
These include: antipsychotics antidepressants birth control heart burn medications certain pain killers blood pressure medicines medications that contain hormones Medical conditions These conditions milking breasts also contribute to lactating when not pregnant: thyroid issues kidney or liver disease chronic stress tumors or disease of milking breasts hypothalamus any trauma or damage to breast tissue high levels of estrogen in newborns Drug use Regular use of certain drugs, like opiatesmarijuanaand cocainecan trigger lactation without pregnancy. Breast stimulation For some people, having regular breast stimulation may trigger galactorrhea.
Other tests can include: bloodwork to see hormone levels pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy mammogram or ultrasound to check for changes in breast tissue MRI to examine the brain for tumors or issues with the pituitary gland. But there are a few things you can do at home to reduce your likelihood of lactating while not pregnant, including: avoiding bras or clothing that irritate your nipples avoiding stimulating breasts too often practicing healthy ways to relieve stress.
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