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Women's Health Nipple Discharge

Nipple Discharge

For women who are not breastfeeding, the sight of nipple discharge can be alarming. If you notice discharge from your nipple, in most cases, it's either normal or due to a minor condition.

What is Nipple Discharge?


Nipple discharge is any fluid or other liquid that comes out of your nipple. Nipple discharge is normal during reproductive years, even if you are not breastfeeding.


There are both normal and abnormal discharge.


Bloody nipple discharge is never normal. Other signs of abnormality include nipple discharge from only one breast and discharge that occurs spontaneously without anything touching, stimulating, or irritating your breasts.

Normal nipple discharge more commonly occurs in both nipples and is often released when the nipples are compressed or squeezed. Some women who are concerned about breast secretions may actually cause it to worsen. They do this by repeatedly squeezing their nipples to check for nipple discharge. In these instances, leaving the nipples alone for a while may help the condition to improve.

Why do I have nipple discharge?


Nipple discharge is a typical part of breast function during pregnancy or breast-feeding. It may also be associated with menstrual hormone changes and fibrocystic changes. The milky discharge after breast-feeding usually affects both breasts and can continue for up to two or three years after stopping nursing.


Possible causes of nipple discharge include:

  • Abscess

  • Birth control pills

  • Breast cancer

  • Breast infection

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

  • Endocrine disorders

  • Excessive breast stimulation

  • Fibrocystic breasts (lumpy or rope-like breast tissue)

  • Galactorrhea

  • Injury or trauma to the breast

  • Intraductal papilloma (a benign, growth in a milk duct)

  • Mammary duct ectasia

  • Medication use

  • Menstrual cycle hormone changes

  • Paget's disease of the breast

  • Periductal mastitis

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding

  • Prolactinoma

Breast Check up

Who will experience nipple discharge?


Nipple discharge is common in women, particularly after breastfeeding and can affect how you breastfeed. Men can also experience nipple discharge, but this is abnormal and you should seek a second opinion from a doctor in such instances.


How is nipple discharge assessed and treated?


Your doctor will start by asking questions about the discharge, including:

  • When did the discharge start?

  • Is it in one breast or both?

  • Does it come out on its own, or do you have to squeeze the nipple to produce it?

  • What other symptoms do you have?

  • What medications do you take?

  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?


The doctor will do a clinical exam to check your breasts for lumps or other signs of cancer. You may also have one or more of these tests:

  • Biopsy: The doctor removes a small sample of tissue from your breast to check it for cancer.

  • Mammogram: This test takes X-ray pictures of your breasts to help the doctor look for cancer.

  • Ductogram: This test uses mammography and an injected contrast material to display an image of the milk ducts inside your breasts.

  • Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your breasts.

  • Urine Test: Your doctor will also likely do a urine or blood test to find out if you’re pregnant

When should I seek medical help for nipple discharge?


Nipple discharge is usually nothing to worry about. However, breast cancer is a possibility, especially if:

  • You have a lump in your breast

  • Only one breast is affected

  • The discharge contains blood or is clear

  • The discharge is spontaneous and persistent

  • The discharge affects only a single duct


In men, it’s important to see a doctor if you notice any nipple discharge as it’s uncommon.

If you experience a nipple itch, rash, or uncommon discharge, please contact us for an appointment today!

Dr Jesse Hu: Breast Specialist in Singapore

Dr Jesse Hu is a breast specialist and experienced breast surgeon in Singapore. With a commitment to excellence and a focus on patient well-being, Dr Jesse Hu brings her expertise to the field of breast health. Whether you're seeking preventive consultations or surgical solutions, trust in Dr Jesse Hu's expertise for compassionate care that prioritises your needs.

Dr Jesse Hu
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