Men Can Breast Feed: Prolactinoma

If you are a man or woman whose breasts start to leak milk, check with your doctor immediately. You could have a brain tumor that can be cured with medication.

When a child sucks on a breast of a woman or a man long enough, it stimulates nerves in the nipple that send messages along another nerve that goes directly to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This causes the brain to produce large amounts of a hormone called prolactin, which circulates in the bloodstream to cause the breast to make milk. Anything that stimulates the nerve that extends from the nipple to the brain or causes the brain to produce extra prolactin will cause breasts of a woman or a man to fill with milk.

Some people who have a lung tumor that attaches to that nerve will have breast milk as the first sign of that tumor. Some people with a brain tumor called prolactinoma will have increased blood levels of the hormone prolactin and have breasts that leak milk. Women who have the brain tumor called prolactinoma, usually stop menstruating, and men who have this tumor usually are impotent. They can be given a drug called bromocriptine which usually shrinks the tumor and can make it disappear without surgery. The women usually resume menstruating and the men become potent again.

Checked 8/9/05

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