Nipple Discharge : How to check if you have a Nipple Discharge?


A nipple discharge is any fluid or other liquid that seeps from your nipple. It may be necessary to squeeze the fluid out of the nipple or it may simply flow out spontaneously.

During the reproductive years, nipple discharge is common even if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Most discharges are not severe. Still, it is worth discussing with a doctor because it may be an indication of breast cancer.

Numerous women occasionally have nipple discharge. It could simply be typical for you. Additionally, both boys and girls frequently have creamy nappy discharge shortly after birth. Within a few weeks, this ought to end.

Male breast discharge is abnormal. Your discharge's color is not a reliable indicator of how bad it is. A normal discharge can come in a variety of colors.


During lactation or pregnancy, a little quantity of milk may leak out. Early in pregnancy, the leakage may begin, and you may continue to see milk for up to two or three years after you stop breastfeeding.

However, even if you are not pregnant or nursing, you still could experience discharge. Among the other reasons for nipple discharge are:

  • Contraceptive tablets
  • Drugs that raise prolactin levels, such as antidepressants and tranquillizers, can cause breast infections or abscess duct papillomas, a benign wart-like growth in your milk duct.
  • Mammary duct ectasia, also known as a blocked milk duct
  • Prolactinoma, a non-cancerous tumor of the pituitary gland
  • Excessive stimulation of the breast or nipple
  •  Fibrocystic breasts
  • Hormone fluctuations during your period or menopause
  • Damage to the breast
  • Underactive thyroid gland

How to check if you have a Nipple Discharge?

Normal nipple discharge causes no concern. It is still worthwhile to have a doctor look it over because it may be a sign of breast cancer. Seeing a doctor is especially crucial if:

  • You have a nipple, a breast lump, or changes to your skin's texture or color.
  • You have breast discomfort or other breast cancer symptoms; the bloody discharge only affects one breast; and the discharge does not cease
  • It is crucial to visit a doctor if you observe any nipple discharge in guys because it is not common.

Your doctor will first inquire about the discharge by asking questions like:

  • What time did the discharge begin?
  • Or is it in both breasts?
  • Whether it emerges on its own,
  • or does it come from squeezing the nipple?
  • What further signs do you have?
  • What prescription drugs do you have?
  • Are you nursing or pregnant?


There are many textures available for discharge. For example, it could be sticky, thick, or thin.

Either one nipple or both nipples might be the source of the discharge. It may just leak out when you squeeze the nipple or it may leak out on its own.

You could also have the following symptoms in addition to nipple discharge:

  • Achy or sensitive breasts
  • Nipple changes, such as turning inward, dimpling, changing color, itching, or scaling breast changes, such as a lump or swelling around the nipple
  • Skin changes, such as a rash or sores
  • Redness
  • Breast size variations, such as a bigger or smaller breast than the other, fever
  • Absent periods
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting

Please consult a doctor if you have nipple discharge and any of these:

  • It occurs frequently and is not an isolated incident.
  • It only comes from 1 breast
  • It is bloodstained or smelly
  • You are not breastfeeding and it leaks out without any pressure on your breast
  • You are over 50
  • You have other symptoms – such as a lump, pain, redness or swelling in your breasts


The doctor will perform a clinical examination to look for lumps or other cancer-related symptoms in your breasts. Also possible are one or more of the following tests:

Biopsy. To check for cancer, the doctor takes a little sample of tissue from your breast.

Mammogram. With the use of X-ray images, the doctor can detect cancer with the help of this test.

Ductogram. This test shows a picture of the milk ducts inside your breasts using mammography and an intravenous contrast agent.

Ultrasound. Images of the inside of your breasts are produced during this examination using sound waves. The doctor will probably do a urine or blood test to determine whether you are pregnant.

Complications of Nipple Discharge

Breast cancer, especially ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early stage of the illness that starts in the milk ducts, can cause nipple discharge. Another example of it is Paget's disease of the breast, a rare form of breast cancer that affects the nipple.

The discharge from one breast will most likely be the only one if you do have breast cancer. There might be a lump in your breast as well.

Cancer is an uncommon cause of discharge, though. Only 9% of women 50 years or older who saw a doctor for nipple discharge in an earlier study Trusted Source had breast cancer.

Any breast discharge should still be examined, especially if it is a new symptom for you.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 20, 2023

Next review due: Mar 20, 2025

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