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 examining 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 the level of prolactin in your system. If your prolactin level is elevated, your doctor will most likely check your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level, too.
- A pregnancy test, to exclude pregnancy as a possible cause of nipple discharge.
- Mammography, ultrasound or both, to obtain images of your breast tissue, if your doctor finds a breast lump or observes other suspicious breast or nipple changes during your physical exam.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain to check for a tumor or other abnormality of your pituitary gland, if your blood test reveals an elevated prolactin level.
If your doctor suspects a medicine you're taking might be the cause of galactorrhea, he or she might instruct you to stop taking the medicine for a short time to assess this possible cause.