Nipple discharge is not always a serious problem, but persistent discharge and discharge after menopause can be dangerous. Nipple discharge is common in women after child birth and other kinds of secretions are also possible during pregnancy and after childbirth. But if the secretions in nipples in women are not due to child birth or pregnancy, or if the discharge is red or pink in color, one should see a doctor.
The doctor may examine the fistula to find out the reason for nipple discharge. Mammary gland fistula is a passage found on the surface near the areola and its infection may cause secretions. The doctor will examine the cause of infection and may enquire about related health conditions.
There can be many types of secretions, released from the mammary glands and there are different reasons for the secretions of the different types of discharges. Nipple discharge can cause breast pain, tenderness, and fever, irregularity in menstrual cycle and swelling in breasts.
Some of the common forms of discharges from breasts are -
1. Galactorrhea - Milky discharge from the breast commonly seen in women, who are not pregnant and it is common in women, who have a high level of the hormone prolactin. The condition is called Galactorrhea.
Reasons for increased levels of Hyperprolactinemia are -
i. Breast stimulation
iv. Disorder in pituitary glands or thyroid glands (hypothyroidism)
v. Liver failure or kidney failure
2. Use of contraceptive and antidepressant can cause changes in hormone levels to cause nipple discharge or secretions from the breasts.
3. In case of sticky discharge, one can suspect inflammation and infection. Different types of infections can cause secretion of mucus in, yellow and brown color.
4. Women having bloody discharge can suspect trauma, infection, injury or cancer. Infection can cause pain and redness in the skin, and in case of abscess, a lump can also be felt.
Serious disorders of breasts
Breasts discharge can be caused due to some kind of the benign disorder and some of the severe conditions are -
Tumor of milk duct - Discharge can be caused by intraductal papilloma that is a kind of tumor of the milk duct, in which, the secretions are bloody or clear. Breast cancer can cause swelling in the lymph nodes.
Fibrocystic breast - Lump in women can be caused due to the condition called fibrocystic breast, in which, the breast has a number of lumps and gets tender.
Blockage of milk duct - Blockage of milk duct called mammary duct ectasia, can cause inflammation and infection. Women suffering from mammary duct ectasia should quit smoking.
Hormonal condition - Discharge from breast due to hormonal condition can be caused during pre- menopause stage or due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. Other symptoms of the condition are irregularity in the monthly cycle and infertility.
Gynecomastia - Nipple discharge can be caused by Gynecomastia, a condition related to male breast enlargement, where the breast may get tender but it is a very rare condition.