Classification and external resources
ICD-10 N64.3, O92.6
ICD-9 611.6, 676.6
DiseasesDB 6314
MeSH D005687

Galactorrhea or galactorrhoea is the spontaneous flow of milk from the breast, unassociated with childbirth or nursing.

Contemporary Maternal-Newborn Nursing Care defines galactorrhea as "nipple discharge." [1]



It can be due to dysregulation of certain hormones or local causes such as excessive nipple stimulation. Hormonal causes most frequently associated with galactorrhea are hyperprolactinemia and thyroid conditions with elevated levels of TSH or TRH hormones.

Lactation requires the presence of estrogen, progesterone and prolactin, and the evaluation of galactorrhoea includes eliciting a history for various medications or foods (methyldopa, opiates, antipsychotics, as well as licorice[citation needed]) and for behavioral causes (stress, and breast and chest wall stimulation), as well as evaluation for pregnancy, pituitary adenomas (with overproduction of prolactin or compression of the pituitary stalk), and hypothyroidism. Adenomas of the anterior pituitary are most often prolactinomas. Overproduction of prolactin leads to cessation of menstrual periods and infertility, which may be a diagnostic clue. Galactorrhoea may also be caused by hormonal imbalances owing to birth control pills.

Galactorrhoea is also a side effect associated with the use of the second-generation H2 receptor antagonist Cimetidine (trade name: Tagamet). Galactorrhoea can be also caused by anti-psychotics that cause hyperprolactinemia by blocking dopamine receptors responsible for control of prolactin release. Of these, risperidone is the most notorious for causing this complication. Case reports suggest proton-pump inhibitors have been shown to cause Galactorrhoea.

Neonatal Milk

Neonatal milk or witch's milk is milk secreted from the breasts of many newborn infants. It is caused by a combination of the effects of maternal hormones before birth, prolactin and growth hormone passed through breast feeding and the postnatal pituitary and thyroid hormone surge in the infant. Witch's milk is more likely to be secreted by infants born at full term, than by prematurely-born infants. Breast milk production occurs in about 5% of newborns and can persist for two months though palpable breast buds can persist into childhood.[2]

There is usually no treatment necessary; however, redness, tenderness, or fever may be a sign of mastitis and may require antibiotics.[3] Blood from the nipples is nearly always benign and associated with the normal growth of the ducts, rather than mastitis.[3] Removing the milk from the breasts can prolong milk production and is considered necessary in some cultures.[4] While breastfeeding may also contribute to prolonged milk production and breast enlargement, temporary or permanent weaning is not recommended.[3]

In folklore, witch's milk was believed to be a source of nourishment for witches' familiar spirits.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Ladewig, P., London, M., Davidson, M. (2006). Contemporary Maternal-Newborn Nursing Care (6th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0131703927.
  2. ^ "'Witch's milk'. Galactorrhea in the newborn". Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  3. ^ a b c "'Breast Problems". Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  5. ^ Potts, Malcolm (1999). Ever Since Adam and Eve: The Evolution of Human Sexuality. p. 145. ISBN 0521644046. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Galactorrhea — is the spontaneous flow of milk from the nipple at a time other than during nursing. Galactorrhea can be due to normal factors such as an unrecognized pregnancy, trauma, surgery, overexercise or one of a number of drugs (including amphetamine,… …   Medical dictionary

  • galactorrhea — [gə lak΄tə rē′ə] n. [ GALACTO + RRHEA] persistent flow of milk from the breasts …   English World dictionary

  • galactorrhea — /geuh lak teuh ree euh/, n. Pathol. 1. an abnormally abundant flow of milk in a lactating woman. 2. secretion of milk from the breast of a nonlactating person. Also, galactorrhoea. [1850 55; GALACTO + RRHEA] * * * ▪ pathology       excessive flow …   Universalium

  • galactorrhea-amenorrhea syndrome — amenorrhea accompanied by galactorrhea, sometimes associated with increased levels of prolactin; several different types are known. See Ahumada del Castillo s., Chiari Frommel s., and Forbes Albright s …   Medical dictionary

  • galactorrhea — noun Date: circa 1860 a spontaneous flow of milk from the nipple …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • galactorrhea — noun Lactation (secretion of milk from nipples) unassociated with childbirth or nursing …   Wiktionary

  • galactorrhea — n. excessive flow of milk (in a lactating woman) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • galactorrhea — ga·lac·tor·rhea …   English syllables

  • galactorrhea — ga•lac•tor•rhe•a [[t]gəˌlæk təˈri ə[/t]] n. 1) pat an abnormally persistent flow of milk 2) pat secretion of milk from the breast of a nonlactating person • Etymology: 1850–55 …   From formal English to slang

  • galactorrhea — …   Useful english dictionary

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