Galactorrhea | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes galactorrhea?

Galactorrhea has many causes, some of which include the following:

  • Tumors (usually benign, or not cancerous), especially tumors of the pituitary (say: "pit-too-it-terry") gland, which is located in the brain
  • Medicines such as hormones, antidepressants, blood pressure medicines and certain tranquilizers
  • Herbal supplements such as nettle, fennel, blessed thistle, anise and fenugreek seed
  • Drugs such as marijuana and opiates
  • Pregnancy
  • Clothing that irritates the breasts (such as scratchy wool shirts or bras that don't fit well)
  • Doing very frequent breast self-exams (daily exams)
  • Stimulation of the breast during sexual activity
  • Kidney disease
  • Oral contraceptives
  • An underactive thyroid (also called hypothyroidism), which is a gland that produces hormones

Sometimes the cause of galactorrhea can't be found.


Evaluation and Treatment of Galactorrhea by Kristin S. Pena, M.D., and Jo Ann Rosenfeld, M.D. (American Family Physician May 01, 2001,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 05/01