General Warnings

List Of Drugs That Cause Galactorrhea

Galactorrhea is a condition characterized by the spontaneous flow of milk from the breasts unrelated to breastfeeding or childbirth. It occurs due to an abnormal secretion of prolactin, a hormone responsible for milk production. Galactorrhea can affect both women and men, although it is more commonly observed in women.

The primary symptom of galactorrhea is the spontaneous and often unexpected production of breast milk. Other symptoms associated with galactorrhea may include:

1.      Milky discharge from one or both nipples unrelated to breastfeeding or childbirth.

2.      Breast tenderness or swelling.

3.      Irregular menstrual periods or loss of menstrual periods (amenorrhea).

4.      Changes in libido or sexual function.

5.      Acne or other skin changes.

6.      Headaches.

7.      Vision problems (in rare cases associated with pituitary gland tumors).

The prevalence of galactorrhea varies depending on the underlying cause. It can be seen in approximately 3-5% of women of reproductive age. Common causes include hormonal imbalances, such as an overproduction of prolactin (hyperprolactinemia), certain medications, thyroid dysfunction, chronic kidney disease, and pituitary gland tumors. It is important to consult a healthcare professional if galactorrhea is experienced to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Many drugs can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance in the body, leading to abnormal secretion of prolactin and subsequent galactorrhea. This article aims to shed light on some commonly prescribed medications that have been associated with this condition, emphasizing the importance of awareness and medical guidance.

Drugs That Cause Galactorrhea

Drug-induced galactorrhea occurs due to the disruption of hormonal balance caused by drugs. It is important to be aware of medications that can lead to galactorrhea to recognize and address this side effect promptly. The list of drugs that can cause galactorrhea includes:

1.      Antipsychotic Medications: Certain antipsychotic medications, such as risperidone, haloperidol, and chlorpromazine, have been reported to induce galactorrhea. These drugs affect dopamine receptors in the brain, leading to an increase in prolactin levels. Patients on antipsychotics should be monitored for signs of galactorrhea and discuss any concerns with their healthcare provider.

2.      Antidepressant Medications: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, have also been linked to galactorrhea. Medications like fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline can increase prolactin levels, potentially causing breast milk production. It is crucial for patients to communicate with their healthcare provider if they experience this side effect.

3.      Hormonal Medications: Certain hormonal medications, including oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), have the potential to disrupt the hormonal balance and contribute to galactorrhea. Estrogen-containing medications can elevate prolactin levels, leading to milk production. Patients using these medications should be aware of the possibility of galactorrhea and consult their healthcare provider if it occurs.

4.      Gastrointestinal Medications: Metoclopramide, a medication commonly used to treat gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea and vomiting, has been associated with galactorrhea. It functions by blocking dopamine receptors, resulting in increased prolactin secretion. Patients taking metoclopramide should be aware of this potential side effect and discuss any concerns with their healthcare provider.

Domperidone and rabeprazole are the most reported cause of drug-induced galactorrhea. However, it is important to note that these occurrences are relatively rare.

Can Drug-induced galactorrhea be cured?

The treatment and resolution of drug-induced galactorrhea depend on various factors, including the specific medication causing it, the individual’s response to treatment, and the underlying condition being treated. In some cases, galactorrhea may resolve on its own once the medication is discontinued or adjusted. However, in other instances, further intervention may be required. Here are a few potential scenarios:

1.      Medication adjustment: If galactorrhea is a known side effect of a particular medication, your healthcare provider may consider adjusting the dosage or switching to an alternative medication with a lower risk of causing galactorrhea. In such cases, discontinuing the medication or finding an alternative can often lead to the resolution of galactorrhea.

2.      Treatment of the underlying condition: If galactorrhea is a result of an underlying condition, such as a pituitary gland disorder or hormonal imbalance, treating or managing that condition can help alleviate galactorrhea symptoms. This may involve medications or other therapies specific to the underlying cause.

3.      Hormonal therapy adjustment: If galactorrhea is associated with hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, your healthcare provider may consider adjusting the hormone dosage or changing the formulation to minimize the risk of galactorrhea. This can often lead to the resolution of symptoms.

4.      Monitoring and management: In some cases, galactorrhea may persist even after adjusting or discontinuing the medication. Regular monitoring of prolactin levels and symptom management can help minimize discomfort and complications associated with galactorrhea.

It’s important to note that the resolution of drug-induced galactorrhea is not guaranteed for every individual. The best course of action is to consult with your healthcare provider, who can assess your specific situation, identify the underlying cause, and provide appropriate treatment recommendations. By closely collaborating with your healthcare provider, you can work together to find the most effective approach to manage and potentially resolve drug-induced galactorrhea.

How To Prevent Drug-Induced Galactorrhea

Preventing drug-induced galactorrhea can be challenging since it depends on the specific medication and its mechanism of action. However, here are some general strategies that may help reduce the risk or minimize the occurrence of drug-induced galactorrhea:

1.      Communication with your healthcare provider: When discussing treatment options with your healthcare provider, make sure to inform them about your concerns regarding the potential risk of galactorrhea. This will help them consider alternative medications or adjust the dosage if available.

2.      Informed decision-making: Before starting any new medication, discuss its potential side effects, including galactorrhea, with your healthcare provider. Consider the risks and benefits of the medication, and evaluate if there are alternative treatments available with a lower risk of causing galactorrhea.

3.      Medication adherence: It is important to take medications as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Inconsistent or incorrect use of medications can potentially increase the risk of side effects, including galactorrhea. Follow the prescribed dosage and schedule strictly.

4.      Regular monitoring: If you are taking a medication known to cause galactorrhea, your healthcare provider may recommend periodic monitoring of prolactin levels. This can help identify any early signs of increased prolactin and prompt adjustments in medication or dosage.

5.      Individual response: Understand that everyone’s body may react differently to medications. If you experience galactorrhea or any other side effect while taking a specific medication, promptly inform your healthcare provider. They can assess the situation and make necessary adjustments to minimize the side effects.

6.      Consider non-drug alternatives: Depending on the nature of your condition, explore non-pharmacological treatment options with your healthcare provider. In some cases, alternative therapies, lifestyle changes, or complementary approaches may be effective in managing your condition without the risk of galactorrhea.

Remember, prevention of drug-induced galactorrhea may not always be possible, as it depends on the specific medication and individual factors. However, open communication with your healthcare provider and informed decision-making can help minimize the risk and identify appropriate treatment options to manage any potential side effects effectively.


Galactorrhea, characterized by the spontaneous flow of breast milk unrelated to breastfeeding, can be caused by certain medications. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, hormonal medications, and gastrointestinal medications have been linked to this condition. If galactorrhea occurs while taking any of these medications, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider to evaluate the underlying cause and discuss potential alternatives or adjustments in the treatment regimen. Increased awareness of these medication-induced side effects empowers patients to make informed decisions and seek appropriate medical guidance.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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