Nipple discharge is fluid that comes out of the nipple of the breast but is not caused by pregnancy or breastfeeding. The discharge can be different colors. It can be thick or thin. Nipple discharge can come from one breast or both. Nipple discharge in men is not normal. Ninety-seven percent of the time, nipple discharge is not cancer.
Sometimes discharge from nipples will get better and not need treatment. Most of the time nipple discharge is not cancer. Once in a while it can be a sign of breast cancer. Newborn babies can have nipple discharge. This is because hormones from the mother cause milk to develop in the baby. This kind of discharge goes away in 2 weeks.
Here are some of the reasons for nipple discharge:
- Rubbing of the nipple from a bra or t-shirt
- Clogging of the milk ducts
- Tumors in other places in the body
- Benign tumor that is not cancer
- Normal lumpiness in the breast
- Some herbs, such as anise and fennel
- Breast abscess
- Chronic kidney/liver problems
Some medications can cause nipple discharge. These medicines are opioids, oral contraceptives, antihypertensives (methyldopa, reserpine, verapamil), antidepressants and antipsychotics. A woman is more likely to have changes in her breasts as she gets older. Some of these changes can be the cause of nipple discharge.
A doctor or nurse will often ask a woman to have a examination. Medical tests can find the reason for the nipple discharge. A mammogram and ultrasound are two tests that a doctor might use. The fluid that comes out of the nipple may be collected and tested.
Sometimes nipple discharge is treated with an operation. Even after surgery another operation may be needed.
- Some Causes of Nipple Discharge, from Merck Manuals
- "Nipple discharge: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". medlineplus.gov. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
- Sajadi-Ernazarova, Karima R.; Sugumar, Kavin; Adigun, Rotimi (2022), "Breast Nipple Discharge", StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, PMID 28613688, retrieved 2022-04-16
- "Abnormal discharge from the nipple: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Image". medlineplus.gov. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
- "Benign breast conditions: duct ectasia". Breast Cancer Care. 2015-06-03. Retrieved 2018-08-19.