The cause of galactorrhea is not always known. Some causes may be:

  • Pregnancy
  • Stimulation of the breast from things like breast exams and clothing that rubs against them
  • Certain medicines, such as antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, sedatives, and medicines that contain hormones
  • Certain herbs, such as nettle, fennel, blessed thistle, anise, and fenugreek seed
  • Drugs, such as marijuana and opioids
  • Some health problems, such as underactive or overactive thyroid, chronic kidney failure, tumors, or liver disease
  • Injury to the chest or spinal cord

Risk Factors

Galactorrhea is more common in females. It can happen in males and infants, but it is not as common. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Prior pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Wearing clothing that irritates the nipple
  • Frequent breast self exams or breast stimulation



The main symptom is a milky discharge from one or both breasts that is not due to breastfeeding. Other problems may be:

  • Enlarged breasts
  • Abnormal or absent menstruation
  • Headaches
  • Vision problems
  • Loss of sex drive
  • An increase in hair growth on the chin or chest
  • Erectile problems


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

Blood tests will be done to check hormone levels.

Pictures will be taken to look for signs of a tumor. This can be done with:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan



Some people will not need treatment. The problem will go away in time. Others will be treated based on the cause. This may mean changing medicines or having surgery to remove a tumor.


Galactorrhea may be prevented by avoiding:

  • Clothing that irritates the breasts
  • Stimulating the breasts and nipples
  • Conducting breast exams more than once a month

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.