When you are not breast-feeding, fluid leaking from one or both
nipples is called nipple discharge. It may or may not be a sign of a medical
Nonspontaneous discharge that occurs only when
you press on your nipple is usually normal and occurs in the majority of women
at one time or another. The discharge can be clear, cloudy, white, yellow,
green, or brown. The more the nipple is pressed or stimulated, the more fluid
is discharged. This type of nipple discharge does not usually mean that there is a problem.
Spontaneous discharge of fluid or blood from a
nipple is a concern, except during pregnancy and breast-feeding. This type of
discharge occurs without pressing or stimulating the nipple. Galactorrhea is
one type of spontaneous nipple discharge and may be a side effect of a
medicine or caused by a noncancerous tumor in the
pituitary gland (pituitary adenoma), decreased thyroid
function (hypothyroidism), or certain types of cancer.
Call your doctor if you have spontaneous nipple discharge or a
discharge from only one nipple (unilateral) or that looks like blood.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
September 9, 2011
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