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Overview 

Nipple discharge is any fluid that emerges from the breast nipple. It is typical to have a little amount of secretion throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Nipple discharge is less common in non-pregnant and non-breastfeeding women than it is in pregnant as well as breastfeeding women. 

Normal nipple discharge occurs more often in both nipples and is frequently discharged when the nipples are squashed or pulled together. 

When you pinch your nipples or breasts, you may notice a nipple discharge from one or both breasts. This might happen spontaneously or as a result of the tension. Depending on the color of the mucus, the nipple discharge might be milky, translucent, green, yellow, brown, or crimson. A single duct or numerous ducts may be used for the discharge. Nipple discharge may be thick and sticky to thin and runny in texture and viscosity. The color of the discharge may not always indicate whether it is normal or problematic. Depending on whether the nipple discharge is aberrant or normal, the color changes.

It is never natural to have bloody nipple discharge. There are other indicators of abnormalities besides nipple discharge from a single breast, such as discharge that happens spontaneously without any touch, stimulation, or aggravation of your breast.

Causes 

A common aspect of the female reproductive system during pregnancy and lactation is nipple discharge, which occurs often. Furthermore, it might be associated with fibrocystic abnormalities as well as alterations in menstrual hormones. Lactating women may have a milky discharge from both breasts, which is common during nursing and may remain for up to two or three years after breastfeeding has been discontinued.

You may have a breast infection if you have a pink discharge that includes pus. Mastitis is another term for this condition. Mastitis is most often diagnosed in nursing women. Non-breastfeeding women, on the other hand, maybe affected. You may notice that your breast is hurting, red, or heated to the touch if you have a breast infection or abscess.

Ectasia is another cause of leaking nipples. It is a breast disorder in which the ducts may get obstructed. Fluid may collect and flow into the tissue around it. Infection, chronic inflammation, or the development of an abscess, a pus-filled infection that may be lethal, are all possible outcomes. If an infection develops (often known as periductal mastitis), scar tissue may develop as a result of the infection. The nipple is drawn inward as a result. Breast pain and a thick, sticky nipple discharge are other possible symptoms of this illness.

A papilloma is a benign noncancerous tumor that has the potential to burst and cause bleeding. One of the most unexpected things that might happen is when the discharge from a papilloma starts on its own and just affects one duct. While the bloody discharge may subside on its own, the doctor recommends diagnostic mammography as well as breast ultrasound to determine what is causing it. If papilloma is suspected, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis or to rule out the chance of malignancy. If a papilloma is discovered during a biopsy, the doctor will refer to a surgeon to discuss treatment options with him or her.

Often, nipple discharge is caused by a harmless ailment. Breast cancer, on the other hand, is a risk, especially if you have a lump in the breast. The discharge starts spontaneously and continues for a long time.

Other causes of nipple discharge are listed below:

• Birth control pills 

• Breast infection 

• Endocrine disorders 

• Abscess 

• Trauma or injury to the breast 

• Excessive stimulation of breast 

• Mammary duct ectasia

• Prolactinoma

• Pregnancy 

When to see a doctor 

In the majority of situations, nipple or breast discharge is not cause for alarm. Nonetheless, since this might be a sign of breast cancer, it is critical to get it checked out by an expert. Nipple discharge might be a sign of a severe underlying problem that requires medical attention. If you continue to have periods and the nipple discharge does not stop on its own following the menstrual cycle, you should make an appointment with the doctor.

If you develop sudden nipple discharge from a single duct in one breast after menopause, see your doctor right away for additional assessment.It is critical that you see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

• Breast is lumpy or has skin changes on the chest or abdomen, such as crusting or a change in color

• Discharge is bloody and affects just one breast

• The flow does not stop

• Breast cancer symptoms such as breast soreness or other indicators of the illness