Galactorrhea is a pathological condition in which the mammary glands secrete white milk fluid, which is not associated with pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding. This disease can occur in both women and men and children. Discharge can be of different nature: they can be scanty and only when pressing on the mammary gland, or constant and abundant. Galactorrhea can be unilateral or bilateral, but discharge from one gland can indicate a serious pathological condition-prolactinoma. The frequency of occurrence of galactorrhea in healthy women throughout life is from 2 to 20% of cases.
Causes of galactorrhea
In many cases, doctors cannot identify the true cause of the disease, although there may be quite a lot of them. in 50-80% of women, galactorrhea is observed with an increase in the level of prolactin, a lactogenic hormone. The appearance of this pathology may be as follows:
- hypothalamic and pituitary tumors;
- hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism;
- taking certain medications for a long time (morphine, chlorpromazine, methyldopa);
- kidney and liver damage;
- diseases and tumors of the adrenal glands;
- ovarian diseases (polycystic ovary syndrome and others);
- empty Turkish saddle syndrome and some other causes.
Clinical picture of galactorrhea
With minor galactorrhea, a woman is not always bothered by discharge from the mammary glands — the symptoms are managed by swelling, heaviness and dull chest pains. In other cases, the discharge can be abundant, regular, even with a slight pressure. Frequent discharge from the nipples can cause eczema and maceration of the skin. In 80% of cases, galactorrhea is accompanied by the absence of menstruation or a violation of the menstrual cycle, but may not be accompanied by such violations. Sometimes with galactorrhea, women often worry about severe headaches, visual disturbances, acne on the face and chest, as well as reduced sexual desire. In some cases, women with galactorrhea experienced increased growth of hair on the chin and chest.
In men, the most common symptoms are headaches, vision problems, and decreased potency.
Diagnosis of galactorrhea
The first diagnosis is a medical examination. Then the woman is excluded from pregnancy. Next, the doctor collects secretions for tests, and the patient is sent for a blood test to determine the level of prolactin in the body. If it is elevated, it is necessary to pass a test for thyroid hormones.
If a tumor is suspected, then a mammogram, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination is performed.
Treatment of galactorrhea
For some medical reasons, galactorrhea is not treated and eventually passes without medical intervention. As long as a woman has a discharge from the mammary glands, she needs to wear underwear that minimizes the friction of the fabric against the breast. Avoid any breast stimulation and ask your partner not to touch their breasts or nipples during lovemaking.
Treatment galactorrhea depends on the causes of its occurrence. If it is caused by a medical drug, the doctor reduces the dosage or completely cancels it. When galactorrhea is caused by other diseases, the main focus is on their treatment.
If the cause of galactorrhea is not identified, the patient is prescribed medications aimed at reducing prolactin production — bromocriptine or cabergoline. After this course, the discharge most often stops. If, despite the treatment, the symptoms persist or the patient cannot take medications for any reason, the doctor prescribes a surgical operation, during which the ducts are removed from the mammary glands.