Lactation is the term used for secretion of milk from the breast (mammary glands). Normally milk production from breast occurs after childbirth. Breast milk provides immense physiological benefits to the infant. It is also considered as a valuable method of nurturing the child. The new born child gets all his nutritional requirements and immune protection from mother’s milk.
Lactation is under the control of endocrinal system. Prolactin is the hormone mainly responsible for stimulating the breast to produce milk. This hormone is secreted by pituitary gland located in the brain. The level of prolactin starts increasing during the late pregnancy period and soon after child birth.
Although lactation is related with pregnancy, in some women lactation can occur without being pregnant. It is possible for a woman to lactate in her fertile age without pregnancy. Although it may be a cause of embarrassment, milk secretion from breast in a non pregnant woman is harmless. There are numerous causes that may initiate lactation without pregnancy.
Possible Causes Of Lactation Without Pregnancy?
Below are given important causes of lactation without pregnancy:
- In some women it may be a natural change that may take place within their body during the course of the childbearing age. This change is usually related to changes in prolactin level in the body.
- Abnormal lactation is possible due to intake of certain medications and herbs a woman is taking. Certain medicines useful for controlling high blood pressure or tranquilizers and antidepressants can increase prolactin secretion. Discharge of milk from nipple can also occur with intake of birth control pills in some woman. Herbs such as aniseed, fenugreek can also produce abnormal lactation.
- Lactation without pregnancy can occur due to an early miscarriage which may be presumed to be nothing but a painful menses with large elimination of blood clots.
- A tumor in pituitary gland can cause increased production of prolactin hormone. This rise may be to such a level that it may initiate lactogenesis.
- Damage to the nerves of nipple or breast can cause abnormal secretion of milk in a woman. Injury to the chest wall from an accident can damage the nerves supplying breast and nipple. The damaged nerve can prevent certain chemicals that are associated for regulating prolactin level. Disturbance in mechanism can elevate the prolactin level causing discharge of milk from mammary glands.
- Lastly frequent stimulation of nipple and breast may result in lactation in some woman. If the nipples are sucked frequently and regularly, the brain will think it as a signal to promote increased secretion of prolactin which concomitantly initiates milk secretion from breast.
Lactation without pregnancy is not normal. There are many underlying causes some of which may be an indication of serious health issues. Thus immediate medical attention is necessary even though lactation itself may be harmless.
How To Stop Lactation Without Pregnancy?
Lactation without pregnancy may be an embarrassment for a woman. Besides, there may an underlying cause which needs to be addressed so that the condition gets resolved. For example if the underlying cause is because of some medications that a woman is taking, than discontinuing the medicine after consulting the doctor will stop the apathy.
If pituitary tumor is the cause, all measures are implied to treat the tumor. Depending on severity and size the measures may include medication or surgical removal of the tumor.