- Galactorrhea is the spontaneous flow of milk from the nipple at a time other than during nursing. Galactorrhea can be due to "normal" factors such as an unrecognized pregnancy, trauma, surgery, overexercise or one of a number of drugs (including amphetamine, cimetidine, female hormone replacement therapy, hydroxyzine, methyldopa, nicotine, narcotics, reserpine, antidepressants of the so-called tricyclic type, or verapamil). Galactorrhea can also be due to "abnormal" factors of a pathologic nature such as cirrhosis of the liver, a false pregnancy (pseudocyesis), renal (kidney) failure, disorders of the spinal cord, or a prolactinoma (a benign pituitary tumor that secretes the hormone prolactin which stimulates milk production). The word "galactorrhea" comes from the Greek "galaktos" meaning "milk" + "rhein" meaning "to flow" = "to flow milk." (The naturally occurring sugar in breast milk is called galactose.) Galactorrhea is also called witch's milk (or, to use the venerable German name, Hexenmilch) although these terms are sometimes reserved for the milk that commonly flows from the newborn baby's breast or can be expressed from it. This transient phenomenon is due to stimulation of the baby's breasts by the mother's hormones that crossed the placenta during pregnancy. The ability of the baby's breasts to respond in this fashion is a mark of baby's having been born at (or near) full-term; the breasts of a baby whose birth is markedly premature cannot respond with galactorrhea.
* * *1. Any white discharge from the nipple that is persistent and looks like milk. 2. Continued discharge of milk from the breasts between intervals of nursing or after the child has been weaned. SYN: incontinence of milk, lactorrhea. [galacto- + G. rhoia, a flow]
* * *ga·lac·tor·rhea or chiefly Brit ga·lac·tor·rhoea gə-.lak-tə-'rē-ə n a spontaneous flow of milk from the nipple
* * *ga·lac·tor·rhea (gə-lak″to-reґə) [galacto- + -rrhea] excessive or spontaneous flow of milk irrespective of nursing; it is sometimes associated with hyperprolactinemia (q.v.).
Medical dictionary. 2011.