I am 34 years old, in good health, and a non-smoker. Yesterday I had noticed that by breast produced milk and I am no where near being pregnant. Is this normal that my body produced breast milk without being pregnant? Is this something that women go through when they begin menopause?
Breast milk in a nonpregnant woman can be worrisome. It is the third most common breast complaint that brings women to the doctor, after lumps and breast pain. Roughly half of women may express some fluid from their breasts during a breast self-exam. Most of the time it is associated with non malignant causes such as hormonal imbalances. Sometimes it is just due to stimulation during sexual foreplay. It can also be due to a number of medications such as sedatives, tranquilizers, hormone replacement or the birth control pill. That is because they increase the hormone prolactin which causes milk discharge. The commonest causes of bloody or watery discharge are non-malignant papillomas or due to infection.
Go see your doctor. Ask them to do a pap smear of the discharge. A glass slide is rubbed on the nipple discharge and then placed in preservative solution and sent to the lab for a pathologist to look at under the microscope. They might look at the discharge under a microscope. Other times the doctor might want to do a ductogram which inserts a fine catheter or needle into the duct that is leaking the milk and dye is injected followed by an x-ray.
It is likely this problem is not going to be due to anything bad. It is not due to menopause per se. It should be evaluated to be certain there isn't a problem. Most of the time it won't be due to cancer.
Machelle Seibel, MD
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