Nipple discharge is not a symptom of anything severe, but it’s good to consult a doctor to ensure.
Multiple women have nipple discharge from time to time, which can be normal, and for babies to have milky nipple discharge is not unusual, and it will stop within a week. It is not normal for men to have nipple discharge.
Consult a doctor if:
You have nipple discharge and any of the following:
- It happens often
- Discharge occurs from one breast
- It’s smelly or bloodstained
- You are over 50
- You develop other symptoms like pain, redness, lump, or swelling in your breast
- You are not breastfeeding, and it leaks without any pressure
- You are a man
Usually, it’s nothing severe, but there is a slight chance it could be cancer, so kindly consult a doctor if you encounter any symptoms.
The doctor will examine your breasts and may refer you to a breast clinic or a hospital for further tests, which usually indicates you do not have cancer.
What happens in a breast clinic?
You may have:
- A breast examination
- A scan, typically a breast mammogram (X-ray) or ultrasound
- Biopsy, where they insert a needle in your breast to remove some cells for testing
Often, all tests will be in the same visit, and the results will be within a day, but biopsy results will take a week or two.
Nipple discharge causes
They have multiple causes, but common causes include:
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- An enlarged or blocked milk duct
- A small, non-cancerous lump in the breast
- Mastitis, a breast infection
- Medication side effects (including the contraceptive pill)
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022