The lactation period without pregnancy is said to be when there is a discharge in the breast of a woman who does not have and is not expecting a baby, reminiscent of milk. The question of what to do if milk flows from the breast, many women are asked. And this situation requires a doctor’s consultation, it can really indicate hormonal problems and cause a lot of discomfort to the patient.
Lactation, that is, milk production, is a natural phenomenon that occurs in women who are in a state of pregnancy (the body is preparing for this task before birth) or has just given birth to a baby.
The milk in the breast is not strange. But what if white fluid appears in women who are not pregnant and have no children at all or are mothers, but several years have passed since their birth?
Mother's milk is an element-rich liquid that acts as a food source for children. Its breast glands are produced after childbirth, and they can also begin to form it during pregnancy. In general, secretion persists for several months and even years after the birth of the baby. However, sometimes breast milk may appear in women unrelated to pregnancy and lactation. This condition belongs to the category of pathological. And if chest hurts and milk flows, you need to beware and find out the details.
How it works?
The creation of milk is controlled by special hormones that form in the pituitary gland. Under normal conditions, prolactin is needed for this, it is released under the influence of other hormones or irritation of the mammary gland when the baby sucks breast milk. The reason for the formation of milk outside of lactation or during pregnancy, therefore, will be an increased level of certain hormones. This is not a disease, but a symptom that can accompany a number of unnatural conditions.
Although galactorrhea (as the phenomenon is called when milk flows from a woman’s breasts for no reason) is often caused by elevated levels of prolactin, this can happen even if this hormone is normal. In some cases, milk appears for no apparent reason. Most often, this disorder is caused by the following factors:
- excessive breast irritation - during sexual intercourse or in daily activities;
- prolactinoma - a benign tumor of the brain area in which the cells responsible for prolactin are located;
- hypothyroidism - a low level of thyroid hormones, its reduced activity;
- medications - most often problems are caused by contraceptives, antidepressants or high-pressure formulations;
- herbal ingredients - it is mainly about fennel or fenugreek seeds contained in the preparations;
- less frequent causes of milk secretion are kidney disease or spinal cord injury.
If a woman noticed the release of milk from the mammary gland (we can only talk about small drops), and she is not pregnant at all, you should definitely consult a doctor. Do not look for answers to the question of why milk flows from the breast, on its own. This phenomenon should not be underestimated, and its cause should always be established.
What are the symptoms of hyperprolactinemia?
So, if milk flows from breastfeeding, this is the action of prolactin. Violation of acceptable levels in the woman’s body can lead to the fact that the breast begins to produce fluid just like that. Such an ailment is called hyperprolactinemia and is manifested not only in undesirable lactation, but also in:
- menstrual irregularities;
- fertility problems;
- other health problems such as depression, acne, hypertrichosis, or headaches;
- a hallmark is also obesity and chest pain.
Signs indicating an excess of prolactin can be diagnosed by determining the level of this hormone in the blood - the normal result is 23 μg / L in the follicular phase, 40 μg / L in the luteal phase. Higher levels (approx. 50 μg / L) may signal abnormalities. It is worth knowing that this disease also occurs in men and is manifested by an increase in the mammary glands, problems with erection and libido.
What to look for
The reason that milk flows from the breast without pregnancy can be problems with the thyroid gland and adrenal cortex, which affect the correct hormonal balance. Violation of acceptable levels of prolactin may result from the use of antidepressants or contraceptives with a large amount of estrogen, but also stress or overstrain.
Another cause of the disease can be breast tumors (in this case, the discharge is dark in color and resembles milk), as well as the pituitary adenoma of the brain, manifested by the formation of nodules within it. The pituitary adenoma consists of hormonally active cells, the sites that cause prolactin production are most often affected.
How to treat?
Since there are many reasons that milk flows from the breast, the treatment of this problem depends on the diagnosis. A standard recommendation is to detect prolactin levels. It is worth remembering that the use of drugs that inhibit lactation, which are used by women who want to complete the period of breastfeeding, is not suitable for the treatment of hyperprolactinemia, they do not normalize the production of prolactin. For this purpose, special formulations are introduced that not only level the hormone level, inhibit lactation, but also sometimes allow a woman to return to normal cycles, reduce menstrual pain and restore ovulation.
If milk flows from the breast, it causes discomfort to the woman. No wonder many mothers generally refuse to breast-feed. Sometimes pregnant or already giving birth patients complain that milk flows from the chest very strongly. This leads to the fact that clothes get wet, an infection develops. This phenomenon is normal, and because of its existence, bras with special inserts are produced. Disposable, reusable inserts are on sale. They are silicone.
Many mothers suffer from this process. And he is normal. In the first months after birth, the phenomenon is considered quite natural. It is important to remember that, using the inserts, you need to change them every 2-3 hours. If the breast is damaged, it is best to use silicone. And sometimes, if the milk flows too intensively and uncontrollably, it is enough to squeeze the nipple for about 40 seconds. And then the milk will stop flowing. But if this does not help, you can seek advice from a gynecologist. The amount of milk that flows out does not depend on its volume in the woman’s breast. That is, even if it is small, it can still leak out. For this reason, consulting a gynecologist will never be superfluous.