A Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Joseph Akinde, has said that some women who aren’t pregnant or nursing a baby may secrete milk abnormally from their breasts if they have very high prolactin levels in their system.
Dr. Akinde stated that it is possible for a woman who is not breastfeeding to lactate if such a woman has high prolactin levels.
According to Mayo Clinic – a medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research, high prolactin hormones in women help regulate important functions such as growth, metabolism, blood pressure, and reproduction.
Also, a recent paper published online by Medical News Today stated that in non-pregnant females or males, doctors consider prolactin between 50 to 100 ng/ml as moderately high.
The paper noted that typical normal levels of prolactin are less than 25 ng/ml for females and less than 17 ng/ml for males.
“Both males and females produce the hormone prolactin, but it is known for telling the body to make breast milk when someone is pregnant or breastfeeding as the production of prolactin takes place in the pituitary gland.
“Prolactin levels steadily increase during pregnancy and remain elevated postpartum in people who are breastfeeding. The levels typically return to normal within 2–3 weeks after birth in nonlactating people and within six months postpartum in those who are lactating.
“If the levels are higher or lower than the expected level, it can indicate a problem,” the Medical News Today paper said.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, Akinde who works at the Living Spring Hospital and Maternity Home, Ejigbo, Lagos, explained that abnormally high prolactin levels may be due to pituitary adenoma, or in some instances stress.
A pituitary adenoma is a benign tumour of the pituitary, the master gland that controls other glands and influences numerous body functions including growth.
Although the tumour itself is not cancerous, it may affect pituitary function, and, therefore, may need to be removed.
On why some elderly can breastfeed babies they did not give birth to, the gynaecologist said, “Some grandmothers have been known to breastfeed their grandchildren many years after they had stopped bearing children.