For women who are not breastfeeding, the sight of nipple discharge can be disturbing. However, if you notice discharge from the nipple, there is no reason to panic. While nipple discharge might be serious, in most cases, it’s either normal or because of a minor condition.
Bloody nipple discharge can never be normal. Other signs of abnormality are: nipple discharge from just one breast and discharge that happens spontaneously without anything touching, stimulating, or irritating the breast.
Some causes of normal nipple discharge are: pregnancy, stopping breastfeeding, some kind of stimulation and in girls and boys in adolescence. This is a normal nipple discharge and it is not necessary any treatment.
These are the possible causes of abnormal discharge:
- Fibrocystic breast changes. These refer to the presence or the development of the fibrous tissue and cysts. The fibrocystic changes in the breasts could cause lumps or thickenings in the breast tissue. They don’t indicate, though, the existence of cancer. Along with itching and causing pain, fibrocystic breast changes can sometimes cause secretion of clear, yellow, green, or white nipple discharge.
- Galactorrhea. It may sound scary but galactorrhea just describes the condition in which a female’s breast secretes milk or a milky nipple discharge despite the fact that she is not breastfeeding. Galactorrhea is not a disease and has lots of possible causes. Those are:
- Pituitary gland tumors
- Some medications, including psychotropic drugs and some hormones
- Some herbs, like anise and fennel
- Illegal drugs, including marijuana as well
- Infection. Nipple discharge containing pus might indicate an infection in the breast. Also this is known as mastitis, and it is usually seen in women that are breastfeeding. Mastitis can also develop in women who are not lactating. In case you have an infection or abscess in the breast, you might as well notice that your breast is red, sore, or warm to the touch.
- Mammary duct ectasia. It is the second most common cause of an abnormal nipple discharge. It is usually seen in women approaching menopause. The condition results in inflammation and possible blockage of ducts that are located underneath the nipple. When this happens, might develop an infection that results in thick, greenish nipple discharge.
- Intraductal papilloma. Those are noncancerous growths in the ducts of the breast and are the most common reason why the women experience abnormal nipple discharge. When the breasts become inflamed, intraductal papilloma might result in nipple discharge containing blood or some liquid that has sticky texture.