Pregnancy brings lot of changes in the mental as well as physical condition of a woman. Along with the expansion in girth of the abdomen, another organ which undergoes change are the breasts. Since breast milk starts immediately the moment the baby is born, the process of change and blooming of breast also is underway throughout the nine months of pregnancy. But there are certain conditions which can create anxiety amongst the new mothers. One such common, yet worrying problem is breast discharge during pregnancy.
What is breast discharge?
The outlet of breast milk or any type of discharge from the breast is known as breast discharge or nipple discharge. It happens after the childbirth or even during some tests and processes. Discharge can come out of any or many tiny openings of the nipple.
What are the types of breast discharge?
Usually this discharge is of two types. The first one is physiological nipple discharge which is not a condition of concern. This discharge flows out from the myriad ducts of the nipples and is usually yellowish to cream like color, with sticky texture. Sometimes, it can also be green in color and the consistency can be thick or watery. More often it occurs in asymptomatic women during massage or use of breast pumps. Breast discharge of this type is also common during mammography. The milky discharge is due to lactation and remains till the baby keeps on feeding. Sometimes there is blood discharge from the nipples. This is very common due to lactation and is caused because the breasts are provided with more blood supply during lactation. This condition is non cancerous and do not require any type of treatment. This is considered normal breast discharge.
What is abnormal breast discharge?
When the breast discharge is not related to pregnancy or lactation, then it is considered abnormal. This is the major difference between normal and abnormal breast discharge. More often than not though, abnormal discharge is benign and it usually happens if any duct of the nipple becomes much enlarged, resulting in spontaneous flow of blood. This discharge can also be accompanied by lump in the breast. It should be taken seriously and get checked from your health practitioner.
How is abnormal breast discharge treated?
At first, the doctor performs clinical examination. He/she will ask to press the nipple and will see the discharge – its color, texture, and amount of flow. If he/she suspects something abnormal in the discharge, then certain test may be recommended, like ultrasound, mammography, X-ray (ductogram) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The doctor will also send the fluid sample for lab analysis. If the lab results are not satisfactory, then above tests will be recommended. If all the tests are normal then no further treatment is necessary. But in case the tests indicate abnormality, then more assessment is required. As a last resort, surgery may be suggested.
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