Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Finding the underlying cause of galactorrhea can be a complex task because there are so many possibilities.

Testing may involve:

  • A physical exam, during which your doctor may try to express some of the fluid from your nipple by gently squeezing or pressing the area around your nipple. Your doctor may also check for breast lumps or other suspicious areas of thickened breast tissue.
  • Analysis of fluid discharged from the nipple, to see if fat droplets are present in the fluid, which can help confirm the diagnosis of galactorrhea.
  • A blood test, to check for the amount of prolactin in your system. If your prolactin level is elevated, your doctor might also check your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level.
  • A pregnancy test, to exclude — or confirm — pregnancy as a possible cause of the nipple discharge.
  • Mammography, ultrasound or both, to generate images of your breast tissue, if your doctor finds a lump or other suspicious breast tissue during your physical exam.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check for a tumor or other abnormality of your pituitary gland, if your blood test reveals elevated prolactin levels.

If your doctor suspects a medicine you're taking might be the cause of galactorrhea, your doctor might instruct you to stop taking the medicine for a short time to assess this possible cause.

Jan. 17, 2013