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Ask Dr. D. Love Your Own Question
Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 19319
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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My nipples are lactating and I know for sure that I am not

Customer Question

My nipples are lactating and I know for sure that I am not pregnant, why is this happening?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
It will help if you could provide some further information:
Do you have any chronic medical problems?
Are you taking any chronic medicines?
From your question, it appears that you have not yet had any medical evaluation for this, correct?

Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
I had asked for some additional information and have not heard back, so will discuss the issue assuming that you have had no evaluation.

There are many different possible causes of lactation without being pregnant. It is not true that it is due to a medical problem in all cases. For example, it is possible to develop lactation as a result of frequent or excessive nipple stimulation.

It can be associated with a variety of systemic medical conditions, which is why I asked about any other medical problems. For example, lactation can be a symptom that occurs with hypothyroidism, liver or kidney dysfunction, multiple sclerosis, or sarcoidosis.

I also asked about what medicines you are taking because lactation can occur as a side effect to a variety of drugs. In fact, this is one of the most common cause of abnormal lactation. There are many drugs that may do this, including antidepressants, such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil, anti-anxiety drugs, such as BuSpar and Xanax, anti-acid medicines/H2 blockers, such as Tagamet or Pepcid, or birth control pills. It also can occur with certain recreational drugs, such as cannabis or amphetamines. There are also some herbs that can cause lactation, such as blessed thistle, anise, fennel, fenugreek seed, red clover, and red raspberry.

The other major category of illness would be a variety of diseases that can increase the level of prolactin, the primary hormone that stimulates milk production. This is most often from a benign adenoma of the pituitary gland, the location of the source of prolactin when it will happen physiologically. These adenomas are also called prolactinomas, since the primary manifestation is the release of prolactin.

It is also possible to develop lactation because of hormonal imbalances associated with other tumors, such as lung cancer, kidney cancer, or lymphoma.

Ultimately, it would typically require a proper evaluation to determine the exact cause. Certainly, if you are in a situation in which there has been significant nipple stimulation, it would be fine first stop the nipple stimulation to see if it eases the symptom. If you are using one of the drugs or supplements that may cause lactation, it may be needed to stop it to see if it is causing the problem for you. Obviously, if you are taking that drug for treatment of a medical condition, then it may be necessary to use an alternative drug, so there should be a discussion with your physician. If none of these issues applies, then there should be an evaluation that would include measuring prolactin levels in the blood and looking for the other systemic diseases noted above.

If you have any further questions or need clarification, please let me know.