Nipple discharge refers to any fluid that seeps out of the nipple of the breast.

Nipple discharge in a woman who's not pregnant or breast-feeding isn't necessarily abnormal, but it should be evaluated by a doctor. Nipple discharge in a man under any circumstances could be a problem and needs further evaluation.

One or both breasts may produce a nipple discharge, either spontaneously or when you squeeze your nipples or breasts. A nipple discharge may look milky, or it may be clear, yellow, green, brown or bloody. Nonmilk discharge comes out of your breasts through the same nipple openings that carry milk. The consistency of nipple discharge can vary — it may be thick and sticky or thin and watery.

Nipple discharge is rarely a sign of breast cancer. But it might be a sign of an underlying condition that requires treatment.

If you're still having menstrual periods and your nipple discharge doesn't resolve on its own after your next menstrual cycle, make an appointment with your doctor to have it evaluated. However, if you've completed menopause and you're experiencing a spontaneous nipple discharge that involves one breast and a single duct, see your doctor right away for further evaluation.

In the meantime, take care to avoid nipple stimulation — including frequent checks for discharge — because stimulation actually makes the discharge continue.

Apr. 09, 2014