Lactation is normal if you are pregnant or you just had a baby. However, sometimes this happen even when you are not breastfeeding or pregnant and this condition is termed as Galactorhhea and is defined as a condition characterized with a milky discharge from the nipples. Though this is not a disease, it could be due to some underlying health problem and though it usually occurs in women, it can happen in men and infants as well.

reasons for lactation without pregnancy

Causes of Galactorhhea

There are many causes of this abnormal lactation and some of the major ones are given below:


This is one of the most common causes of lactating without being pregnant. There are few medicines that stimulate women’s mammary glands. This can be a side effect of few birth control pills, tranquilizers, anti depressants and even high blood pressure pills.


Prolactin secretion can be enhanced when thyroid gland does produce enough hormones. Prolaction increase the body’s capability to produce milky substances

Tumours on Pituitary Glands

The pituitary gland controls the entire endocrine system of the body and so anything wrong with this can cause a lot of unusual things in the body. Prolactinomas is the most common tumour on this gland and this produces more prolactin and that can cause lactation without pregnancy.

Nerve Damage

Any kind of physical trauma that has damaged the nerves and tissues of your breast can also cause lactation without pregnancy. Burns, chest surgery and shingles can also be a reason for this.

Chronic Kidney Disease

People who suffer from chronic kidney disease can develop high levels of prolactin and this happens in more than 30% of the patients. This can lead to lactation as the kidneys are unable to filter the prolactin leading to its build up in the body.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Damage to the nerves present in your body can do things that are least expected. Serious nervous damage can stimulate endocrine glands in your body and lead to lactation in both males and females.


There are few herbs that stimulate the production of milk in pregnant women. However, sometimes these work in women who are not pregnant or nursing. Fennel, anise seeds, cumin, kelabat are some of such herbs.


Hormonal imbalances and changes after a miscarriage can cause lactation even after the pregnancy is over.

These are some of the causes that lead to lactation without pregnancy and if you have milky discharge that is persistent, then make sure that you visit a doctor. Nipple discharge during sexual activity is normal as the breasts get stimulated during such activities. This is not a sign of breast cancer though, it is best to get yourself evaluated by the doctor.

The treatment of Galactorhhea depends on its underlying cause. If it is due to tumour, it can be cured with medicines and/or surgery. See a doctor immediately if you never have been pregnant and if the discharge is coloured and contains blood and pus.