Know your Breast – Causes of Nipple Discharge

The reason women who don’t have babies do not see the nipple discharge on a regular occasion is because small pieces of breast tissue block the nipple ducts which keep the fluid within the breast instead of seeing lactation.

After becoming pregnant, the tissue is released to allow for lactation, in turn making it possible to breastfeed. Once breastfeeding has not been done for some time, tissue grows behind the nipple duct again, keeping nipple discharge from happening.

The most common reason for nipple discharge if not pregnant, is due to fondling or sucking of the breasts as well as irritation from clothing while being active. Drugs and hormone supplements are known to produce nipple discharge spontaneously and pituitary tumors can produce a milky nipple discharge.

This happens because a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland is what triggers lactation in women when they are pregnant. If the pituitary gland is not normal in any way, it can effect lactation, therefore expressing nipple discharge when it is least expected.

A white or milky but non sticky nipple discharge would be seen in the previously mentioned scenarios. If a bloody or watery nipple discharge is experienced, it could mean that it is due to an infection.

This type of discharge could also mean you are dealing with a benign condition such as pilloma. Pilloma is a tumor that is not cancerous but is located inside the breast duct. Multiple pillomas could be present, in turn leaving you with an abnormal looking discharge.

Some nipple discharge could mean a cancerous tumor, but the discharge is almost always seen only on one breast. When nipple discharge is seen on both breasts, it almost always means a benign condition.

Although there are only a handful of reasons a woman would experience discharge, it is important to keep these in mind when trying to determine the cause of the lactation. Not only do hormone imbalances and pituitary issues cause this but sedatives, tranquilizers, and even birth control pills can affect nipple discharge.

It is important to seek medical advice when determining why lactation is present unexpectedly, as it would be almost impossible to determine this reason on your own!

12 Comments

  1. Davis

    I am 56 and recently remarried. There is a greenish discharge from my nipples. I have had 6 kids and never saw green! Is this more than likely an infection? I don’t want to got to the dr. if it isn’t necessary.

    Thanks

  2. Ashley

    I am 23 and have a clear sticky discharge with a yellow hint coming from just my left breast. I just had a period, so I know I’m not pregnant, but and my family has a history or breast caner. I just recently changed my doctor with my insurance two weeks ago and they said it will take affect June 1st. It’s just my luck that something like this would happen when I can’t go to a doctor. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should do or if it should be cause for concern?

    Thank you.

  3. Amy

    I just noticed a dark green discharge from both breast lastnight in the shower.. I have never had this before, plus my (baby) will be 8 this yr.. I also have implants and wondering if that could be the cause also.. Mine are very sore and fill very heavy.. I know im not pregnant, cuz of my past hysterectomy. Did you ever find out the cause of yours?

    Amy

  4. Heidi

    you need to go to the doctor. It is prob an infection in your glands

  5. D2

    it is most likely a bacterial infection since the discharge is green. More importantly did you feel any lumps or obvious masses on your breast? But do visit a doctor for the best treatment option.

  6. I would suggest a mamogram to any woman over the age of 40. There are a lot of resources to get a FREE mamogram. Good luck. Please let me know. Thank you, Barb

  7. lisa

    I know that it has been a while since you posted this question / concern but I wanted to share that in 1994 I hsd the same peoblem, green discharge. I went and had a mamagram done after ruling out pregnancy and the Dr said that women are alway producing milk (and yes it comes in green) and some loose the reabsorption process within the breasts (you and I).

    It is now 2010 and I still have the green lactation but no other problems with it whatso ever!

    - hope this helps you.

  8. Kiki

    I’m 25 and have a watery white discharge from both of my breast. I have had two kids but have been on the Merena since my last child. My blood test show no sign of hormone disbalance and my urine test show no pregnancy. I’m tired all the time as well as nauseated. I have slight abdominal cramping with lower back and hip pain. I’m dumb founded.

  9. tolulope

    I am 25years and have been experiencing a watery form of light milk discharge from my nipple. Although it has reduced,I don’t know what caused the discharge

  10. Annette

    I am 45 years old. I have 6 kids, half grown, half still home. I have 6 grandchildren also. Tinight as I was getting ready for a shower I noticed yellowish/white discharge coming from my right nipple. What causes this?

  11. vasanthi

    Please show the pictire

    • vasanthi

      I am 30 years, why this type problems occuing to women’s.

      Kindly provided any solution