Galactorrhoea: white thin discharge from breasts in men and women

Due to an increased estrogen or prolactin level, the woman may secrete milk or a whitish fluid outside of pregnancy. This can sometimes also apply to men. It can be caused by various reasons such as medication, dysregulated hormones or a tumor. What is galactorrhea, what causes it and what can be done about this discharge?


  • Discharge in the baby
  • Not related to pregnancy
  • Influence of prolactin
  • The pill stimulates: estrogen
  • Physical conditions
  • How is galactorrhea treated?

Discharge in the baby

In the first months after birth, the infant will still have relatively high levels of estrogen. The child received this from the mother during pregnancy, which activated the mammary glands. In other words, the condition can occur for about a month or two immediately after birth. Because estrogen levels gradually decrease, the condition will also disappear with time. The same applies to women who have just given birth, where the level of breastfeeding decreases and ceases after a few to several months. However, if the condition exists, the fluid also appears even though there is no clear reason for it. What causes this?

Not related to pregnancy

The condition is discussed provided that the woman has not had a pregnancy for six months and has also breastfed for a comparable period. It can occur both before and after pregnancy. Fluid production is stimulated by physical problems or reactions. It can occur in both men and women. Yet the symptoms are different between the sexes. Consider the following characteristics of the condition

Woman before menopause

It is accompanied by very irregular menstruation precisely because the body wants to maintain the uterine lining. This may involve less blood loss, different length of the period between bleeding and sometimes a lot of bleeding at once.

Woman in menopause

During menopause, all hormones in the body are changed in such quantities that it affects the woman’s overall functioning. The most characteristic feature is that menstruation stops. During the changes, the milk ducts dilate and production is temporarily increased. The pressure increases and milk can simply start to flow. Relieving the burden on the breast can be stimulated through massage.


The man receives relatively more female hormones in the body, which activates the mammary glands. In addition to the substance flowing drop by drop, it also ensures that the man is less stimulated by male hormones. In other words, there is less arousal, less urges and lust, no interest in the opposite sex, depression, less strength in the body, poor sperm quality and sometimes impotence.

Influence of prolactin

Due to compromised prolactin levels, the milk-producing glands are activated. It influences the quantity, frequency of occurrence and actual composition of the liquid. The hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, and two explanations for the condition are possible. On the one hand, the prolactin level may be normal, causing it to be activated by estrogen, for example (strictly speaking, not galactorrhea). On the other hand, it may be due to high levels of prolactin that trigger the condition (galactorrhea). The most logical thing in that case is that there is an abnormality of the pituitary gland.

The pill stimulates: estrogen

Estrogen is the basis for the formation and maintenance of female physical characteristics. During pregnancy, the hormone level is very high, which stimulates the mammary glands. In other words, high-fat milk is produced for the child’s nutrition. Outside of pregnancy, that level will normally be low. However, it is possible that the condition may occur due to the pill in which extra estrogen is administered. Better results can be achieved by changing the amount or type of pill intake. In that case, consult your doctor about which pill is best for you to take.

Physical conditions

True galactorrhea is based on a number of conditions in which more prolactin is produced. For example, consider the following.

Underactive thyroid gland

Too few T3 and T4 hormones disrupt the metabolism, causing the person to gain weight. A consequence of this is that too much aromatase is produced, which also releases more estrogen into the body. In other words, the feminine characteristics are stimulated as a result.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Due to a hormonal imbalance, cysts grow in the ovary of the ovaries. It ensures that the eggs do not develop as well and that ovulation does not proceed as well. It can include infertility.

Pituitary tumor

This causes an abnormal amount of hormone-producing substances to be released. It ensures that more prolactin is released, but also that more estrogen is released. In other words, a double stimulus for activation of the mammary glands.

Please note that medication can also cause the condition. Consider anti-depressants or medications for high blood pressure.

How is galactorrhea treated?

The causative agent of the condition should be treated directly. If it is due to medication use, a change in medication may provide a solution. Consult the treating physician for this. If it is caused by an underactive thyroid gland, Thyrax should be taken in combination with sufficient dairy. If there is a growth in the pituitary gland, a medication such as Bromocriptine can provide a solution. If it concerns a large growth, a hypophysectomy can be considered. The gland is removed via the nasal cavity. It may involve additional radiation, which also requires the person to take additional hormones for life. Often the person’s fertility will recover over time.

If the condition is caused by the pill, menopause or medication, small changes can remedy the condition. Please seek further information from the treating physician.

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