Can Men Really Lactate?

Unlike female nipples, male nipples seem to be designed for nothing else besides decoration. But is it possible that they can secrete milk — that is, can men actually lactate? Well, the answer is yes! Though under certain circumstances. Really, male lactation is a thing and it can happen naturally.

Lactation refers to the secretion of milk from the mammary glands and the period of time that a mother lactates to feed a baby or at least that is the way most definitions of lactation go now. Men can totally lactate if they want the job and have the right tools.

Right now, we call the process of feeding a baby milk breastfeeding or nursing and it is a job for the mother. It has, however, been shown that men can lactate so the question that is probably left to answer is; why don’t they begin producing milk in the appropriate circumstances like women do?

In the first place, genetics is the major reason why women and not men lactate routinely in appropriate circumstances. Physiologist Jared Diamond wrote in a 1995 article that “The genes on chromosome 23, acting in concert with genes on other chromosomes, ultimately determine all differences between our sexes. Those differences, of course, include not only the possession of ovaries as opposed to testes but also the post-adolescent differences in beards, the pitch of voice, and breast development.”

Both the male and female mammals possess mammary glands which are the organ that produces milk. During puberty, the mammary glands in females develop to a point where a hormonal spike—most notably of prolactin, which is the hormone responsible for the production of milk—can easily induce lactation.

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Male lactation

In males, however, the mammary gland often does not mature to that level. This means that the reason that men do not lactate naturally is basically a matter of hormonal influence, first during the period of puberty and secondly, post pregnancy period. When the right hormones (especially prolactin) are provided, male lactation is absolutely possible. And the striking part is that it is not even difficult to reach this motherly level.

The circumstances to induce male lactation are quite rare but they exist. Check them out;

Medical Intervention

In this case, you generally, need to introduce both estrogen and prolactin into the system, often by injection. Some drugs, like Thorazine—an antipsychotic popular in the mid-20th century—and the heart medication digoxin have induced milk from men as a side effect.

Starvation

It has been said that during World War II, thousands of men reported lactation while held as prisoners either in Japanese POW camps or Nazi concentration camps.

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When a person is malnourished, the hormone-producing glands—like the pituitary gland, which generates prolactin—are impeded, but so too is the hormone-destroying liver. If proper nourishment is later provided, the glands recover much more quickly than the liver, causing hormone levels to skyrocket.

When the Pituitary gland is targeted

Something could target the pituitary gland and cause it to produce more prolactin. Breastfeeding expert Jack Newman notes that a tumor on the pituitary gland could have this effect.

Nipple stimulation

Have you ever wondered how it is possible for adoptive mothers to breastfeed? It’s simply by stimulation of the nipple. From time immemorial, orphaned babied have been traditionally nurtured and nourished by other women, usually, a relative, who if not already lactating, puts the baby to breast and the infant’s sucking after about three to four weeks, would result to milk supply. This according to Jared Diamond, suggests that mere stimulation can induce enough hormonal action to produce breast milk.

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So, for a man who truly desires to experience what it feels like to produce breast milk and maybe, breastfeed a baby, all you need to do is to constantly play with your nipples for a long time. Since repeated mechanical stimulation is a natural way of releasing prolactin, your nipples will become viable milk projectors as soon as you have enough prolactin in your system.

A 38-year-old Sri Lankan man proved in 2002, that this point is actually true when he reportedly began breastfeeding his second child after his wife died in the course of childbirth.

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