Nipple discharge accompanies some breast conditions. Since the breast is a gland, secretions from the nipple of a mature woman are not necessarily a sign of disease. For example, NIH says that small amounts of discharge of a milky fluid called galactorrhea commonly occur in women taking hormonal or other medications, including sedatives and tranquilizers.

Nipple discharge can also be a warning sign of benign disease or of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says most nipple discharges or secretions are not cancer. Even so, it’s important that a woman who notices discharge or unusual changes consult her doctor.

Nipple discharges come in a variety of colors and textures. A milky discharge can be traced to many causes, including thyroid malfunction or certain medications. A bloody discharge needs to be evaluated immediately. Women with generalized breast lumpiness may also experience nipple discharge.

Doctors can take a sample of the discharge and send it to a laboratory to be analyzed. Benign discharges are treated chiefly by keeping the nipple clean. A discharge caused by infection may require antibiotics.