Lactating without Pregnancy

Patient

Q: My friend has been on the Depo for over a year and just started lactating today. She has taken two pregnancy tests and they both came back negative. Could it be from stress or could there be another problem. She is also cold a lot. Could the Depo be the reason for the test not detecting whether or not she is pregnant?

Doctor

A:   Inappropriate lactation is called Galactorrhea and is believed to occur in 20-25 percent of women.  It is much less common in men
Galactorrhea requires the presence of estrogen, progesterone and most importantly prolactin to occur.  Stress, sleep, sex, street drugs, herbal medications. and  prescription medications are known to increase prolactin levels.
Common medications that cause galactorrhea include: anti psychotics, anti depressants, anti hypertensives, anti seizure and birth control medications including Depo- Provera.
Even if any of the above medications apply to you, a visit to the doctor is necessary to rule out the possibility of thyroid disease, renal disease or pituitary, brain or breast tumours.  Fortunatley, the majority of tumours discovered are benign in nature.

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