Galactorrhea is when your breasts make milk when you aren’t breastfeeding a baby. Both men and women can get galactorrhea.
The pituitary gland is a pea-sized bit of tissue at the bottom of your brain that makes hormones. Hormones are chemicals that stimulate other cells or tissues into action.
Prolactin is a hormone from your pituitary gland that causes your breasts to make milk. Prolactin normally increases in women who have just given birth, so they can breastfeed their baby. Too much prolactin causes your breasts to make milk even when you're not pregnant. Prolactin can even make a man's breasts produce milk.
The most common cause of galactorrhea in men and women is:
Other causes of having too much prolactin include:
Certain medicines (some high blood pressure medicines and birth control pills)
Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
Certain lung cancers
Having too much prolactin also can affect sexual function and fertility in men and women.
In both women and men, a large tumor can press on nerves in the brain and cause headaches or partial blindness.
Doctors treat galactorrhea with:
Medicine to stop your pituitary gland from making prolactin
Surgery to remove a tumor, if you have one and if medicine doesn't work
Radiation therapy, if both medicine and surgery don't work
If your symptoms are mild and don't bother you, doctors may not treat your galactorrhea. You may need to take estrogen for low estrogen levels, and doctors will do follow-up CT scans or MRI each year to make sure your pituitary tumor isn't growing larger.