Breast and Nipple Discharge

what does a nipple discharge mean

For women who aren’t breastfeeding, the sight of nipple discharge can be worrying. But if you notice discharge from your nipple, there’s no reason to panic. While nipple discharge can be severe, in most cases, it’s either typical or due to a minor condition.

Still, if you are not nursing, you need to contact your healthcare service provider at any time you observe breast discharge. Based upon your symptoms and the results of diagnostic tests, your doctor will pick the best course of treatment.

What is regular and what is unusual nipple discharge?

Bloody nipple discharge is never regular. Other signs of problem include nipple discharge from only one breast and discharge that occurs spontaneously without anything touching, promoting, or annoying your breast.

Color isn’t generally practical in deciding if the discharge is normal or abnormal. Both abnormal and normal nipple discharge can be clear, yellow, white, or green in color.

Typical nipple discharge more commonly happens in both nipples and is typically released when the nipples are compressed or squeezed. Some women who are concerned about breast secretions might in fact cause it to aggravate. They do this by consistently squeezing their nipples to check for nipple discharge. In these circumstances, leaving the nipples alone for a while might help the condition to enhance.

Based upon your medical evaluation, your doctor will identify whether your nipple discharge is normal (physiologic) or abnormal (pathologic). Even if your doctor identifies your breast discharge is unusual, bear in mind that most pathological conditions that cause nipple discharge are not severe and are easily treated.

What might cause regular nipple discharge?

Some causes of typical nipple discharge include:

  • Pregnancy. In the early stages of pregnancy, some women notice clear breast discharge originating from their nipples. In the later stages of pregnancy, this discharge may handle a watery, milky look.
  • Stopping breastfeeding. After you have actually stopped nursing your baby, you may observe that a milk-like breast discharge persists for a while.
  • Stimulation. Nipples may secrete fluid when they are stimulated or squeezed. Typical nipple discharge may also take place when your nipples are consistently chafed by your bra or during vigorous physical exercise, such as jogging.

What causes abnormal nipple discharge and can it be noncancerous?

A variety of noncancerous conditions can cause nipple discharge.

If your initial medical examination shows the discharge is abnormal, your doctor might ask for more tests. The tests will assist figure out the underlying condition that’s causing the problem and may include one or more of the following:

  • Lab analysis of the discharge
  • Blood tests
  • Mammogram and/or ultrasound of one or both breasts
  • A brain scan
  • Surgical excision and analysis of one or more ducts in your nipple

Possible causes of abnormal discharge include:

  • Fibrocystic breast changes. Fibrocystic refers to the existence or development of fibrous tissue and cysts. Fibrocystic modifications in your breasts might cause swellings or thickenings in your breast tissue. They do not suggest, though, the existence of cancer. In addition to triggering pain and itching, fibrocystic breast changes can, at times, cause secretion of clear, white, yellow, or green nipple discharge.
  • Galactorrhea. It may sound scary. But galactorrhea simply explains a condition in which a female’s breast secretes milk or a milky nipple discharge although she is not breastfeeding. Galactorrhea is not a disease and has lots of possible causes. These include:
    • Pituitary gland growths
    • Certain medications, consisting of some hormonal agents and psychotropic drugs
    • Some herbs, such as anise and fennel
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Controlled substances, consisting of marijuana
  • Infection. Nipple discharge which contains pus might show an infection in your breast. This is also called mastitis. Mastitis is normally seen in women who are breastfeeding. However it can establish in women who are not nursing. If you have an infection or abscess in your breast, you might also discover that your breast aches, red, or warmer to the touch.
  • Mammary duct ectasia. This is the second most typical reason for abnormal nipple discharge. It is usually seen in women who are approaching menopause. This condition results in swelling and possible blockage of ducts located underneath the nipple. When this occurs, an infection may establish that leads to thick, greenish nipple discharge.
  • Intraductal papilloma. These are noncancerous developments in the ducts of the breast. They are the most common reason women experience unusual nipple discharge. When they become swollen, intraductal papillomas might result in nipple discharge which contains blood or is sticky in texture.

What is the connection between nipple discharge and breast cancer?

The majority of nipple discharge is either typical or caused by a benign medical condition. There are instances, however, when discharge from the breast might be a symptom of some forms of breast cancer. This probability is higher if your nipple discharge is accompanied by a lump or mass within the breast or if you have had an unusual mammogram.

One type of breast cancer that might cause breast discharge is intraductal carcinoma. This cancer establishes within the ducts of the breast situated beneath the nipple.

Another uncommon kind of breast cancer that might lead to nipple discharge is Paget’s disease. This condition establishes in the ducts of the breast and after that transfers to the nipple. It might cause the nipple and the surrounding areola to bleed or exude. Paget’s disease normally occurs with another form of breast cancer.

What about brown, green liquid or cheesy nipple discharge?

If the discharge is brown, green or cheesy, it’s likely you have a harmless condition called duct ectasia.

Duct ectasia tends to impact women approaching the menopause. As the breasts age, the milk ducts behind the nipple get shorter and broader, and may produce a discharge. This is a typical, age-related modification and absolutely nothing to stress over.

A swelling can often be felt behind the nipple, which is simply scar tissue or perhaps a dilated duct, and the nipple in some cases becomes inverted.

This condition is safe and tends to clear up without treatment. It does not enhance your risk of developing breast cancer in the future. However, it’s essential to go back to your GP if you establish any brand-new symptoms.


Last Update - September 21, 2017

References

The Author

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures. Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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