Is it normal to have nipple discharge when not pregnant?  

Nipple discharge in a breastfeeding woman is obviously a normal occurrence and is completely seem off if the woman does not have the milky liquid nipple discharge. However, woman or a girl with nipple discharge and not in pregnancy may bring some concern as it seems an abnormal occurrence, is it though? In the world of medicine, you may be surprised to know that it doesn’t necessarily mean something serious as it could be part of normal body function.

Nipple discharge is the release of fluid or leaking from one or both nipples. There are about 15 to 20 milk ducts in each nipple and discharge can come from one or a number of these ducts. Nipple discharge can be spontaneous or when there is pressure exerted on the breast such as the act of squeezing it. A normal discharge is usually described as whitish, cloudy or almost as a clear fluid. Although, a normal colour of discharge may not be entirely mean there is nothing serious about it and normal discharge may not seem easy to differentiate at times. Hence, it is best to meet a doctor and for them to do further breast examination. It is always better to be safe than sorry, right?

One thing for sure, nipple discharge in men is not normal and a man with such a condition should get prompt medical advice and examination. As mentioned, nipple discharge is common in girls or women not in pregnancy. Normal discharge can be found when there is a pressure on the breast, this is known as a ‘physiological discharge’. Special technique, massage or device such as breast pumps may precipitate such an event. Repeated chafed by the bra or during exercise like jogging could also lead to nipple discharge that is normal. Milky nipple discharge either spontaneous or because of some pressure/stimulation is indeed normal during pregnancy especially closing by to the end of pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Do you know that it is also unusual for babies either a boy or girl, to have milky nipple discharge right after they are born? This is normal and should stop in a few weeks.

Now that you have known how a normal nipple discharge looks and in what condition it occurs, you probably wonder what an abnormal one looks like. Abnormal nipple discharge is usually in many kinds of colours such as green, yellow or brown. A bloody discharge is also an abnormal one. Spontaneous nipple discharge is typically considered abnormal especially if it is coming from one breast. Abnormal discharge may be associated with other breast abnormalities such as swelling, redness, dimpled skin, sores and an inverted nipple or a retracted nipple.

Abnormal nipple discharge is usually a sign of a breast disease or disorder. Even though commonly it is thought that abnormal nipple discharge seems to be only pointing to breast cancer, there are many other breast issues that are connected to. For instance, nipple eczema, duct ectasia, Paget’s disease, fibrocystic breast changes, infection and galactorrhoea. Intraductal papilloma, a benign tumour grown in the milk ducts, is the most common cause of an abnormal nipple discharge. Rarely, a nipple discharge is caused by cancer but there is always a possibility for that.

Since nipple discharge in general does pose worries for those not in pregnancy, it is best to discuss it with a healthcare professional to find the exact cause and to get treatment whenever possible. If the discharge happens regularly, coming from one breast, smelly discharge, spontaneous nipple discharge, the discharge is accompanied with other inflammation sign such as pain, redness and swelling or a person is aged above 50, they should really get themselves checked with a physician.