• Biology

Strange Things You Didn't Know About Male Lactation

As the human race inches closer to the singularity and the idea of gender fluidity saturates our culture, male breastfeeding has become an increasingly interesting concept. While the notion that breastfeeding wouldn’t be an issue if men were doing it, the question remains, can men breastfeed? As you’ll see on this list of male lactation facts – yes and no. While some men can lactate with some simple nipple stimulation, it’s impossible for other guys to get their milk motors running. Confused? You won't be after reading these facts about male lactation.

If you’re asking, “What is male lactation?” you’re not in the minority. Nipple discharge is a scientifically hazy area, and there are many reasons why men may experience discharge from their nipples. After you read this list of man nipples facts, you’ll be so pumped that you just might try to make yourself lactate, and we applaud you for that. Can men lactate as well as women? Keep reading to find out.

  • Lactation Can Be Induced via Starvation

    Photo: 27147 / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    During World War II, thousands of American soldiers who were being held in Japanese POW camps reported that they began to lactate. This is because when a body is malnourished, the pituitary gland and other hormone-producing glands begin to shut down. When nourishment is reintroduced to the body, those glands begin to overcompensate and jack up the body's hormone levels. And since men have mammary glands (the glands that produce milk) just like women, if their hormone levels spike high enough, they can lactate.

  • If You're a Man and You're Lactating, You Might Have a Tumor

    Hey dudes, if you suddenly find yourself lactating, then you might need to go to the hospital as soon as you finish reading this list. According to Jack Newman, a breastfeeding expert, when men begin to lactate it's usually because they have a tumor on their pituitary gland that's increasing hormone levels. 


  • You're Probably Not Going to Be Able to Breastfeed

    Sorry dudes, but no matter how much you want to give your baby mama a break and breastfeed your child, it's probably not a realistic option. Slate's Michael Thompson writes about the rigors of trying to induce his own lactation, writing, "The herbal supplements were no help, either. After seven weeks, I never wanted to taste fenugreek again, and I still hadn't produced any milk. If I was going to get over the hormonal hump, it seemed like I'd have to double the frequency of my pumping at least, and start waking up every three hours throughout the night for bonus sessions. I started to have doubts. Was this really worth it?"

  • Wish You Could Lactate? Blame Genetics

    The main reason that men can't lactate is simple genetics. In our genetic makeup, men and women are essentially the same. Twenty-two out of 23 chromosomes are identical, but it's that 23rd chromosome where things get tricky. Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer Prize-winning physiologist, says, "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, pitch of voice, and breast development.” Stupid 23rd chromosome.