Lactation is the name given to the production of milk in the mammary glands. This occurs naturally in pregnant women and mothers for them to nurse their baby with milk from the breasts. But, can you lactate without being pregnant? As lactation is controlled by pituitary hormones, not ovarian hormones, any women can stimulate and induce lactation with proper methods.
Can You Lactate Without Being Pregnant?
It is in fact possible for women who are not expecting a child to produce breast milk. Naturally, estrogen, progesterone and prolactin are the three hormones that stimulate the production of breast milk in a mother. These hormones can be mimicked with hormone supplements and/or physical stimulation, meaning any women can produce breast milk without being pregnant.
There are some conditions that can also lead to abnormal hormonal changes, which can cause lactations in a woman who isn’t pregnant. These include:
- Galactorrhea – This is a very common cause of non-maternal lactation. Galactorrhea results in a milky discharge from the breast, which can be confused with breast milk. The reason for this can be many things, including nerve damage, chronic kidney disease, and spinal chord injuries. Some herbs like cumin, fennel, anise seeds and kelabat can also contribute to the milk production.
- Pituitary Microadenomas – These are benign tumors which grow on the pituitary gland. The tumors can expel excessive hormones which can lead to the hormonal abnormality, producing non-maternal lactation.
- Other Causes – Some medications are believed to cause the abnormal hormonal change, as well as physical stimulation. Some suggestions state that smoking pot can also lead to abnormal hormonal changes.
Should You Worry About Lactation Without Being Pregnant?
Now you have gotten the answer to “Can you lactate without being pregnant”, maybe another problem will worry you a lot: Is it a problem that should see a doctor? As non-maternal lactation can be caused by some serious underlying health problems, it is always advisable to pay a visit to your doctor if you are producing breast milk and you are sure that you are not pregnant. You should also visit your doctor
- If you have had a child and you body begins to spontaneously lactate many months after giving birth.
- If you have recovered from a miscarriage and begin to lactate many months after.
- If any other kind of discharge occurs suddenly. This is especially true if the discharge contains blood, is multicolored, has a sticky texture, contains pus, or even if it is clear.
Any unexpected discharge from your breast could indicate a serious underlying health problem that would most probably require immediate medical attention.
How to Treat Lactation Without Being Pregnant
Since you have known the answer to “Can you lactate without being pregnant” and what causes this condition, the treatment for non-maternal lactation is dependent upon the cause. Below are the common treatments for the common causes:
- If the lactation is a side effect of medication, then a change in the medication you take would be advised after a trip to your doctor. It is important to first determine what the cause of lactation is, meaning it is imperative that you speak with your doctor before you discontinue the use of any medications.
- If the cause of non-maternal lactation is pituitary tumors, then a course of medication will be prescribed to treat the condition. If the medication is ineffective in treating the condition, then surgery and radiotherapy may be required to eradicate the benign tumors.
- If galactorrhea is the reason of the lactation, your doctor will most likely treat the medical condition that has caused it, which would in turn treat the non-maternal lactation.
- If the cause is unknown in the case of idiopathic galactorrhea, medications like cabergoline that reduce the level of prolactin in a person’s body will be used to reduce discharge. You can also buy well-fitted padded bras to avoid the staining of the discharge.
Once the cause of non-maternal lactation has been determined by your health care professional, then the appropriate treatment can be provided, which should lead to the condition clearing up. To help avoid unwanted lactation, try to avoid frequent physical stimulation of your breasts, and also try to avoid wearing tight cloths, which cause friction constantly on the nipples.