Breast Discharge

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Breasts leaking but I'm not breastfeeding

Oct 2007

Hi, I stopped breastfeeding about 2 years ago and about a year ago my right breast started leaking a sticky yellow fluid and is painful. My gyno/general practitioner says it can be normal and just part of getting older (I'm 37). I've had 2 mammograms in the past year and everything is fine. My problem is that it is painful and the leaking is becoming annoying. It just pours out all day. I have to wear pads in my bra so I don't get this stuff all over my clothing. I know I need to go back to my doctor but maybe I should try a different doctor. Anyone out there with this experience and any good doctors? Thank you Super Leaky

You might have a prolactinoma. A simple blood test to be sure your hormone levels are normal would be reasonable. MD

Spontaneous nipple discharge is not normal. It most often (more than 90% of the time) is from a benign source such as a cyst, or from a papilloma (like a polyp in a duct), but occasionally can be froma cancer. We always check it out with more studies such as ultrasound and pathology of the fluid, and sometimes surgery is needed to correct the problem. You should have a consultation with a breast surgeon to figure out what is causing this. Lisa

My sister-in-law had this and the Drs found she had a benign tumor on her pituitary causing her hyperprolactinemia (high prolactin). There is a medication that seemed to help her and she may still be taking it. nm

Leaking breasts (when not nursing) is called ''galactorrhea'' and can be a symptom of a serious illness. Certain pituitary diseases, including pituitary tumors, can cause galactorrhea, and there are also certain medications which can cause this. Please consult an endocrinologist for an evaluation, which includes laboratory tests and an MRI of the brain/pituitary area. Robert

This just doesn't sound right. I don't want to freak you out, but I do want to make sure you know about a possibility called Inflammatory Breast Cancer -- it doesn't show up on a mammogram because it isn't a lump. It presents itself in different ways including swelling, itching, breast pain, discharge etc. (see for more info). Please consider seeing a doctor and saying, ''Can we rule out Inflammatory Breast Cancer?'' Tori

My sister had a mammogram and two sonograms before a breast specialist saw the four lumps that were in her breast. Be proactive and demand more testing. I am not a professional but having to wear breast pads to soak the leakage does not sound like normal age-related stuff to me! anon

Hi there, You have galactorrhea (breasts leaking when you're not breastfeeding) and you need to have a blood test to have your thyroid and prolactin levels checked (2 hormones that can cause this problem when out of whack). I think you may need a different health care provider if yours didn't suggest this. Good luck. women's health nurse practitioner

You need a specialist. An endocrinologist should probably be your first stop. Mine is Randall Ammon, M.D. of Orinda, somewhat subdued but the best in the East Bay. Had the same problem.

Has you OB/Gyn checked your prolactin/LH levels? - you could have what is often a benign tumor which causes elevated levels and one symptom is leaking milk. Just a thought. anon

call a lactation consultant not another doctor. Find someone via La Leche League or call 408-559-BABY and leave a message there for an LC. not leaking ...yet?

I'd consider a second opinion to rule out breast cancer. I might push for a biopsy. I'd also consider seeing a naturopath or someone who practices traditional Chinese medicine, since they're interested in build up, discharge, hormone balance, etc. Elisa

Please get another opinion. My sister-in-law (who has never had a child) had the same symptoms and ended up being diagnosed with breast cancer and having a breast removed. It took almost a year to diagnose her and was an emotional roller coaster as doctors assured her that there was nothing wrong at first. This is not meant to panic you, but I would strongly urge you to get a second opinion. Sister-in-law

I had breast leakage and it turned out to be a NOT dangerous growth pushing against my pituitary gland in my brain called a pituitary adenoma (benign). I would get another opinion to rule this out. When I had leakage like you described, I told my OB/GYN about it, and she immediately sent me for an MRI where it was diagnosed quickly. So, get a second opinion. And, if this is the case, UCSF is the best hospital in the country for pituitary adenomas, so maybe you might want to call them, too. been there