Lactation can be a very happy experience for new mothers who get to hold and feed that little life they just brought into the big world. The body of mammals is magically designed to provide for their off-springs without having to depend on external sources. Mother’s milk is in fact the most healthiest and nutritious source of food for the first few months.
Lactation is supposed to be the most natural response by the woman’s body when she has just or is about to deliver a baby. In some of the not so rare cases, this can happen even when there is no pregnancy. Confused? Breasts can start secreting milk even when there is no active pregnancy or breastfeeding happening. This can be a rare disorder in the pituitary glands or a side effect of certain strong medications.
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Lactation without pregnancy is the situation where a woman’s breast produces milk without a pregnancy or a baby to breastfeed. Some women continue to produce milk even for months after they have successfully weaned their babies off breast milk. This is not very rare. Many of these women graciously donate their breast milk for needy babies.
In some rare cases, when the woman is mostly between the ages of 20 and 35 years, the breasts can produce milk. The milk production can be scanty, continuous, just in one breast or both breasts, or even intermittent. This is a disorder of the pituitary glands called “galactorrhea”.
The reasons could be plenty. Some of the most common reasons for lactation without pregnancy are:
Not sure if you are lactating without pregnancy? Here are a few symptoms in addition to breasts leaking milk, which might require immediate medical consultation:
Many of these symptoms, when they occur independently, can be confused with other health issues. This is why a doctor does not suspect galactorrhea right away. Only if the lactation is accompanied by one or more of the above-mentioned symptoms, do they take consider galactorrhea.
To diagnose galactorrhea, the doctor will check the following:
It can be quite challenging to make this diagnosis. There are many factors as mentioned earlier, that can cause galactorrhea; especially if the lactation is intermittent or random.
Since there is no direct cure for galactorrhea itself, the doctor will aim to treat the underlying condition that could be causing you to lactate.
Once diagnosed with galactorrhea, the doctor will follow these treatment options to help you:
Whatever the underlying cause may be, once it is treated, the lactation should stop. If it doesn’t, the doctor will take more tests to find out what could be triggering such lactation. This may take time and can sometimes be uncomfortable or even painful. Unless the doctor is able to find the underlying cause that might be triggering the milk production, the lactation may not be stoppable.
No one wants their breasts to lactate when there is no baby in the picture. It can not only be embarrassing, but it can also be very uncomfortable too. Here are a few tips to help you out if you are experiencing galactorrhea:
Lactating when you are not pregnant or breastfeeding a baby can be quite alarming. A doctor will be able to guide and help you. If you have any experiences or tips that can help others in a similar situation, please share them with us. Let us help other women, together.
Such lactations can happen at any age. There have been reports of babies lactating. This happens when a lot of estrogens have been transferred to the baby from the mother. The lactation will subside on its own.
Galactorrhea could be due to a tumor in the brain or the pituitary gland. However, this tumor need not be cancerous. Unless the tumor is removed and tested, one cannot confirm if it’s cancerous.
Yes, they can. Birth control pills alter the hormonal levels to prevent pregnancy. It can even influence the prolactin levels to spike up, thus causing the breasts to produce milk.
Yes, it can. Surgery can remove the tumor that is pressing against the pituitary gland, thus causing lactation. Surgeries are done only if there are no medication options. If medicines can reduce or remove the tumor, doctors will try that first.
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