Idiopathic galactorrhea, often known as a nipple discharge, is the primary name for this underlying condition. It is any fluid or other liquid that leaks from your nipple. The fluid may need to be squeezed out of the nipple or it may just leak out naturally.
Even if you are not pregnant or nursing, nipple discharge is frequent during the reproductive years. Most discharges are not serious. Still, it's worth discussing with a doctor because it might be an indication of breast cancer.
Learn more about the many types of nipple discharge (idiopathic galactorrhea) in the following paragraphs, as well as when you should consult your doctor.
Additionally, it can only indicate that your breast tissue is unusually sensitive to the blood levels of the milk-producing hormone prolactin. Galactorrhea can result from even normal prolactin levels if you have enhanced prolactin sensitivity.
Symptoms and types
Numerous hues are present in nipple discharge. You could learn more about the cause from the colour. If you're not lactating, the chart below outlines the discharge colours and a few potential causes.
The listed factors are merely ideas. If you observe any colour of nipple discharge, you should visit a doctor for a precise diagnosis.
There are various textures available for discharge. It could be thick, thin, or sticky, for instance.
Either one nipple or both nipples could be the source of the discharge. And it may just leak out when you squeeze the nipple or it may leak out on its own.
You might also have the following symptoms in addition to nipple discharge:
- achy or sensitive breasts
- a breast bulge or enlargement around the nipple
- nipple modifications such as inward twisting, dimpling, colour changes, itching, or scaling
- skin modifications like lesions or rashes
- breast enlargement or reduction, or the difference in size between two breasts
- absent periods
- dizziness or vomiting
- An infection of the breast or nipple that is white, hazy, yellow, or filled with pus
- green cysts
- Mammary duct ectasia that is dark or cheese-like (blocked milk duct)
- especially if it only stems from one breast papilloma, clear breast cancer
- Papilloma bloody breast cancer
Small quantities of milk may seep out when you are nursing or pregnant. You may continue to see milk for up to two or three years after you stop breastfeeding if the leaking begins early in pregnancy.
But even if you're not expecting or nursing, you could have been discharged. Nipple discharge may also result from:
- tablets for contraception
- abscess or breast infection
- A benign wart-like development in your milk duct called a duct papilloma
- Antidepressants and tranquillizers are examples of medications that raise levels of the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for making milk
- overstimulating the nipple or breast
- breasts with fibrocytes
- Throughout menstruation or menopause, hormones change
- loss of breast health
- Known as a clogged milk duct, mammary duct ectasia
- A pituitary gland non-cancerous tumour is called a prolactinoma.
- low thyroid activity
- chest cancer
Breast cancer and nipple discharge
Particularly ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early stage of breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts, breast cancer may result in nipple discharge. The nipple may also be affected by Paget's disease of the breast, a rare form of breast cancer.
The discharge will likely only flow from one breast if you actually have breast cancer. You can also have a lump in your breast.
However, cancer seldom causes the discharge. Only 9% of women 50 years or older who saw a doctor for nipple discharge were found to have breast cancer in an earlier study trusted Source.
Even if it's a new symptom for you, it's always a good idea to get any breast discharge examined.
Whenever to see a doctor
Make an appointment to visit your doctor if you have a persistent, spontaneous milky nipple discharge from one or both of your breasts and you are not pregnant or nursing.
You shouldn't be too concerned if breast stimulation, such as extensive nipple manipulation during sexual activity, causes nipple discharge from several ducts.
The discharge most likely doesn't indicate anything uncommon, and it often goes away on its own. Make an appointment with your doctor to get it looked out if you have discharge that persists and won't go away.
It is important to get immediate medical assistance if your non-milky nipple discharge is crimson, yellow, or clear, originates from only one duct, or is connected to a lump you can feel. These symptoms might indicate underlying breast cancer.
Which illness results in breast discharge?
This may be brought on by lactational mastitis, an infection with pus (abscess). If a woman is not nursing, galactorrhea is a milky discharge from both nipples.
A rise in the milk-producing hormone prolactin is often to blame for this. Galactorrhea might develop if you use marijuana or sedatives.
The mammary ducts beneath the nipple enlarge when a woman approaches menopause (around her late 40s or early 50s) (widened). Ectasia is the name given to this common process of milk gland enlargement.
Ectasia is a benign breast disorder. It may sometimes cause the ducts to get blocked. The fluid could then collect and seep into the surrounding tissue. This results in an infection, ongoing inflammation, or an abscess, a pus-filled infection.
Scar tissue may develop if there is an infection (periductal mastitis). This causes the nipple to retract. Along with nipple discharge that is thick and sticky, this infection may also cause breast soreness
Nipple discharge is diagnosed in what way?
If there are other ducts involved in the discharge, your doctor will certainly want to know about them. Discharge from many ducts is almost usually harmless.
It most likely results from alterations like ectasia. A single duct's discharge can be more important. However, surgery may not be required if a mammogram reveals no abnormalities.
The nipple discharge may have various hues and surfaces. To confirm a diagnosis, your healthcare professional could collect a sample of the discharge and have it examined in a lab.
Galactorrhea is not an illness in and of itself, but it may be a symptom of another condition. It often affects women, even those who have never given birth or those who have gone through menopause. Galactorrhea, however, may affect both men and newborns.
The majority of information on nipple discharge may be found here (Galactorrhea).