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Mystery behind woman producing milk from armpits

A mum has begun lactating from her armpits just two days after giving birth.

The woman, 26, gave birth at Hospital de Santa Maria, Lisbon, Portugal, but began suffering pain 48 hours afterwards, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

She appeared to be producing milk from her armpits, prompting doctors to investigate the cause.

“Physical examination revealed a round, firm, well-circumscribed axillary mass that released a white discharge when pressed,” researchers wrote.

A woman, 26, is pictured with lactating armpits.
A woman, 26, had lactation from her armpits two days after giving birth. Source: New England Journal of Medicine

It didn't take doctors long to get to the centre of it though and they diagnosed the 26-year-old with polymastia or accessory breast.

According to Melbourne’s St Vincent Hospital, accessory breasts normally appear in the lower armpit like the woman in the medical journal. Accessory breast is an extra breast or breasts a small number of people can have.

The condition is believed to affect between two to six per cent of women, according to Mayo Clinic.

Sometimes it is mistaken by doctors as swollen lymph nodes or other swelling tissue.

However, while they might cause a woman anxiety they are nothing to worry about although, just like normal breasts, they can suffer breast cancer given they are made from the same tissue.

"In the postpartum period, milk can drain from the tissue, which may become enlarged, in some instances causing pain and discomfort,” researchers wrote.

“In patients with polymastia, it is important that routine screening for breast cancer include examination of the accessory tissue.”

Doctors reassured the woman the accessory breast was harmless.

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