Q: Is it normal for non-lactating breasts to taste like milk? I'm not pregnant nor have I been before, but recently my boyfriend has refused to play with my breasts because he says they taste like milk. I'm concerned and don't know what to say or do.
A: There could be a few things going on. It may be that you are lactating very slightly, which can happen to women who aren't pregnant, but do have high levels of estrogen, progesterone or prolactin in their body. This can occur as a side-effect of taking some medications, such as birth control, anti-depressants or anti-psychotics. Some women also produce breast milk from prolonged nipple stimulation (a condition known as galactorrhea). There can also be a small chance that a woman produces breast milk because there is something more seriously wrong with her body, such as thyroid disorder. However, if you feel healthy otherwise, it's probably not something to worry about.
There is also the possibility that this could be in your boyfriend's head. If he's tasting what he thinks of as milk (such as what cow's milk tastes like), then this is unlikely to be breastmilk. Human breastmilk tastes quite different from cow's milk, because it has a much higher sugar content, making human breastmilk taste noticeably sweeter. One way to test this would be to taste your own nipples to see if you can detect anything. Simply rup your fingers across your nipples and then smell/taste your fingers. You can also take a shower right before you have sex and see if he still "tastes" milk right when he first puts his tongue on your nipples. If the discharge is so slight that you don't notice any actual liquid coming out of your breasts, but he can still supposedly taste it right away, then it's likely a placebo effect. Some men are a bit "freaked out" by the fact that breasts can produce milk and so may think they're tasting it when they're really not. However, if there is a milky discharge coming from your nipples and it isn't caused by a medication you're taking, you should probably go see a doctor about it, just to make sure it's nothing more serious.
Q: Would it be possible and safe to stimulate my boyfriend's nipples enough until he produces lactation?
A: It would be fairly difficult to stimulate a man's nipples enough for them to begin lactating, but it is possible. If you want to cause your boyfriend to lactate, this can be done by having him use a breast pump on his nipples a few times a day for a few weeks. This type of stimulation can cause a person's body to product prolactin, which can cause breast lactations. This process is easier to bring about in women, given that women produce more prolactin than men naturally, but it is theoretically possible for men to do the same.
You can find an account of one male reporters journey to produce breast milk here. He wasn't successful, but he gives good tips on how a many could be. The Young Turks have covered a similar story here. You can also find more information on male lactation here.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.