Discharge can also come in a few different textures. For example, it may be thick, thin, or sticky.
The discharge might come out of just one nipple or both nipples. And it can leak out on its own or only when you squeeze the nipple.
Some other symptoms you might have with nipple discharge include:
- breast pain or tenderness
- lump or swelling in the breast or around the nipple
- nipple changes, like turning inward, dimpling, changing color, itching, or scaling
- breast size changes, such as one breast thatâ€™s larger or smaller than the other
- missed periods
- nausea or vomiting
When youâ€™re pregnant or breastfeeding, small amounts of milk might leak out of your breasts. The leakage can start early in your pregnancy, and you could continue to see milk for up to two or three years after you stop breastfeeding.
However, women who arenâ€™t pregnant or breastfeeding may have discharge as well. Other causes of nipple discharge include:
- birth control pills
- breast infection or abscess
- duct papilloma, a harmless wart-like growth in your milk duct
- drugs that increase levels of the milk-producing hormone prolactin, such as antidepressants and tranquilizers
- excess stimulation of the breast or nipple
- fibrocystic breasts
- hormone changes during your period or menopause
- injury to the breast
- mammary duct ectasia, a blocked milk duct
- prolactinoma, a noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland
- underactive thyroid gland
- breast cancer
Nipple discharge and breast cancer
Breast cancer can cause nipple discharge, especially ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early form of breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts. It can also happen with Pagetâ€™s disease of the breast, a rare type of breast cancer that involves the nipple.
If you do have breast cancer, the discharge will probably only come from one breast. You may have a lump in your breast, too.
Discharge is rarely due to cancer, however. One study found that only 9 percentTrusted Source of women 50 years or older who saw a doctor for nipple discharge actually turn out to have breast cancer. It is still a good idea to get any breast discharge checked out, especially if itâ€™s a new symptom for you.