Can men lac­tate? Asked by Louise via Face­book

Guru Magazine - - Life - An­swered by Dr Stu

Yes, there are re­ported in­stances of breast­feed­ing men which, al­though very bizarre, brings a whole new mean­ing to “shar­ing the par­ent­ing du­ties”. Male breast milk pro­duc­tion is called male galac­t­or­rhoea. There are a va­ri­ety of rea­sons for this to hap­pen, but it is most com­monly caused by raised lev­els of the hor­mone pro­lactin. This hor­mone is pro­duced from a tiny gland at the bot­tom of the brain called the pi­tu­itary gland. Pro­lactin stim­u­lates breast tis­sue to grow and milk-pro­duc­ing glands to de­velop. With­out pro­lactin, a woman would not be able to breast­feed (it PRO­motes LAC­ta­tion) and it is pro­duced aplenty in women who are near­ing the end of preg­nancy or who are breast­feed­ing. Men, un­der­stand­ably, don’t have much cir­cu­lat­ing in their blood. Should some­thing cause in­creased pro­lactin lev­els in a man, he will ul­ti­mately de­velop milk-pro­duc­ing breasts, just like a breast­feed­ing woman – al­beit in a smaller and less dra­matic form. The most com­mon rea­son for high pro­lactin lev­els (hy­per­pro­lacti­naemia) in men is a small tu­mour (non-can­cer­ous) on the pi­tu­itary gland. This is usu­ally treat­able and can of­ten be cured. It is al­ways ab­nor­mal in men (in case you were in doubt) and a milky nip­ple is al­ways a rea­son for a man to visit the doc. So good news, you fa­thers: your nip­ples are safe. You just have to get used to clean­ing up the poop.

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