Nipple Discharge


What is nipple discharge? Is it the same as breastmilk?

If you’re not pregnant, can you have nipple discharge?

To put simply, any fluid that comes out of your nipple is nipple discharge. Sometimes it comes out on its own and sometimes you have to squeeze it out.

Nipple discharge and breast milk aren’t the same things. Breastmilk is produced after a woman gives birth while the former can happen anytime.

Most of the time, the discharge is harmless, but it can indicate bigger problems based on color and texture.

There are normal and abnormal nipple discharges. The normal ones are caused by pregnancy, breastfeeding, and excitement of the breast. Abnormal discharges can happen because of cysts, infection, or cancer.


If you have light green, thick and sticky discharge, it’s probably a nipple cyst. This is common in menopausal women.

You can use a cloth soaked in warm water to burst it. These cysts are not cancerous but prone to come back unless cleaned properly.


Pus like yellow discharge tends to be smelly and indicates breast infection. Other symptoms include fever, breast swelling, and pain. Mastitis is quite common in pregnant women.

Treatment includes using a warm water-soaked cloth on the area and antibiotics. Consult a doctor and get an ultrasound to know the severity.

Milky White

If you are pregnant or have recently stopped breastfeeding, you might get a milky white discharge. This is completely normal.

However, if you’re not pregnant, this can be a sign of pituitary gland issues or hypothyroidism. Certain medicines and herbs can also cause this. Discharging white nipple discharge is called Galactorrhea.


If you have clear fluid coming out, it means intraductal papilloma or nipple warts. Sometimes it can lead to cancer. It comes with underside breast pain and nipple pain.


Red or bloody discharge especially from one nipple can indicate breast cancer. It’s most commonly caused by intraductal papilloma or duct ectasia. But, if you have bloody or clear nipple discharge, get checked for breast cancer.

Not all discharge means breast cancer, but an early checkup can lead to early diagnosis.

Your doctor may suggest an ultrasound, mammogram, or biopsy. Treatments for discharges vary. Don’t continuously squeeze out the fluid because it will cause more irritation. Sometimes excess fluid requires surgery.

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