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What Can Cause Lactation Without Pregnancy & How to Stop it?

What Can Cause Lactation Without Pregnancy?

Lactation is normally associated with pregnancy and it holds a specific purpose of feeding the newborn. But for women who are not pregnant, lactation can spell trouble. There can be many reasons for it, but the most prominent one is hormonal imbalance. This guide talks about what can cause lactation without pregnancy and how to stop it.

This condition is termed as galactorrhea or lactorrhea and both men and women can fall prey to this. It can affect about 32% women and present with a constant milky discharge from the breast even while you are not expecting. Normally, after the birth of the baby, the level of prolactin becomes very high, causing lactation or production of milk. Problem occurs when level of prolactin rises even when you are not pregnant and it is mainly the hormonal imbalance that can cause lactation without pregnancy.

Regulation of hormones is done by brain, prominently, the marble sized pituitary gland, which secretes several other hormones as well. Problems with this gland too can affect the milk production and can cause lactation without pregnancy.

What Can Cause Lactation Without Pregnancy?

Besides that, there are several causes which can lead to lactorrhea. Here are some of the common possible factors that cause lactation without pregnancy.

  • Excessive use of control pills may release many hormones which can trigger faulty signals to the brain, leading to untimely lactation.
  • Consumption of certain sedatives, antidepressants, antipsychotics and high blood pressure drugs or dependence on some specific medications.
  • If you are taking too much of milk stimulation supplements like fenugreek, fennel, anise, improper lactation will take place
  • If a woman is heavily into the drug abuse and intake of the drugs like cocaine, opioid or marijuana, this condition is bound to occur.
  • Frequent self examination of breasts
  • Burns
  • Chest surgery
  • During excessive sexual activity, breast stimulation like nipple manipulation or activities involving clothing friction for prolonged periods may result in lactation
  • Nerve damage of chest resulting from injury
  • Chronic kidney diseases can sometimes cause lactation without pregnancy.
  • Pituitary gland disorder such as presence of tumors
  • Injury or tumors in spinal cord too can affect hormone production and cause lactation.
  • If you have an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism

Lactation without pregnancy can usually occur during puberty or menopause. Many times, it may be due to lack of estrogen that high prolactin can trigger lactation during pregnancy. Lactation without pregnancy does not count in the normal milk production and is generally a nipple discharge. There are various treatments for galactorrhea or untimely nipple discharge. Managing lactation without pregnancy needs proper understanding and evaluation of the condition.

How to Stop Lactation Without Pregnancy?

Before we understand how to stop lactation without pregnancy, it is necessary to know the possible investigations to diagnose the underlying condition. It can be gauged with the help of following procedures to plan appropriate treatments for lactation without pregnancy.

  • Blood test to check prolactin levels
  • Brain Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check prolactin level
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level are also checked through the blood test
  • Examination for breast lump
  • Fat in nipple discharge is checked for diagnosing galactorrhea.
  • Ultrasound
  • Mammography

Treatment for lactation without pregnancy depends upon the underlying cause and depending upon that, treatments are availed. If this condition has occurred due to excessive usage of medication, you would be advised to discontinue or change the dosage, as advised. Doctors even suggest alternatives to the medicines, to stop lactation without pregnancy.

  • Sometimes it’s tough to know the cause behind untimely lactation in such cases medicines are given to tone down the level of prolactin in the body
  • For an underactive thyroid gland, supplements or thyroid replacement therapy may be given to correct the hormone imbalance.
  • In case of prolactinoma, medicines or surgery is carried out for removing it altogether

Some other precautionary measures also help a lot in stopping the lactation which includes wearing the lose clothes so that no immense pressure builds up. You need to take those foods which help in suppressing the level of prolactin in the body and which eventually leads to stopping the lactation in a very plausible way.

Stimulation of breasts need to be avoided as that eventually leads to producing milk at a time when it is not required. It is recommended that one should not ignore the symptoms when lactation occurs in odd ways which often indicates the problems related with some health ailments which can be quite troublesome in the long run. Any nipple discharge and signs of lactation without pregnancy must be evaluated at once. With effective work-up, the most appropriate ways to stop untimely lactation can be planned.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Galactorrhea. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/galactorrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20350431
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Breast Discharge. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15857-breast-discharge

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 1, 2023

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