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What Happens if a Grown Man Drinks Breast Milk and Other Questions

What Happens if a Grown Man Drinks Breast Milk and Other Questions

What happens if a grown man drinks breast milk? Can a man breastfeed? Our medical expert, Dr. Mary Rani Cadiz, lays down the hard facts to some surprising questions about breast milk and breastfeeding.

Can a man breastfeed (male lactation)? What conditions can make this possible?

No. Even though males have mammary glands, they do not have a sufficient amount of prolactin for milk production.

Males normally have low levels of prolactin. If there is high prolactin concentration in the blood, it interferes with the function of the testicles, the production of testosterone (the main male sex hormone) and sperm production. This is usually caused by a pituitary tumor, which is deemed an abnormality. This benign (noncancerous) tumor of the pituitary gland that produces high amount of prolactin is called prolactinoma.

They say that breastmilk helps babies get better if they’re sick. So, can I or my husband drink my own breastmilk to boost our immune system? What happens if a grown man drinks breast milk?

Provided that you are cleared of any blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B and HIV, technically it is safe to have your partner drink your breastmilk. The usual precaution for body fluids follows. Chemicals from cigarette smoke, metabolites from medicines, and food you have eaten may affect the quality of your breastmilk.

Is this effective?

One must understand that babies and adults have different nutritional needs. Breastmilk in itself may not suffice to fulfill all the nutrient requirements of an adult.

For the immune system, numerous studies on complex sugars from breastmilk or human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) show a potential benefit. But further research is needed to conclude the advantages for adults. These studies are mostly conducted in laboratories and only have a handful of human subjects involved.

What are the (supposed) benefits of adults drinking breastmilk?

HMOs have the capacity to modulate immune function and the gut barrier, supporting the potential of HMOs to provide health benefits in adults. HMOs are best known for their prebiotic effects.

Benefits of HMOs include

  • Improved gastrointestinal function
  • lessened allergies
  • Decreased obesity
  • Better immune function.

It is important to keep in mind that the amount of breastmilk or “dosage” is still not founded. Remember also that the digestive system of the baby is different from an adult, making it sensible to ask if the breastmilk components will be metabolized the same way.

Should I give it a try?

Bear in mind that drinking breastmilk may or may not help the adult immune system. You may try if you are clear of any communicable disease and if you have more than enough breastmilk to spare for your baby.

Always practice proper handling and storage of breastmilk as contamination with bacteria and virus is possible.

Learn more about Breastfeeding here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Šuligoj, T., Vigsnæs, L. K., Abbeele, P., Apostolou, A., Karalis, K., Savva, G. M., McConnell, B., & Juge, N. (2020). Effects of Human Milk Oligosaccharides on the Adult Gut Microbiota and Barrier Function. Nutrients12(9), 2808. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12092808

Elison, E., Vigsnaes, L. K., Rindom Krogsgaard, L., Rasmussen, J., Sørensen, N., McConnell, B., Hennet, T., Sommer, M. O., & Bytzer, P. (2016). Oral supplementation of healthy adults with 2′-O-fucosyllactose and lacto-N-neotetraose is well tolerated and shifts the intestinal microbiota. The British journal of nutrition116(8), 1356–1368. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114516003354

Steele, S., Foell, J., Martyn, J., & Freitag, A. (2015). More than a lucrative liquid: the risks for adult consumers of human breast milk bought from the online market. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine108(6), 208–209. https://doi.org/10.1177/0141076815588539

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Written by Mary Rani Cadiz, M.D. on May 18
Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, M.D.
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