Causes of Nipple Discharge

 Causes of Nipple Discharge

Breast health can be an important aspect of female fertility. These glandular organs are very sensitive to hormone levels and undergo changes themselves in sync with a woman's menstrual cycle. Seeing a discharge from the nipples makes many question, 'is nipple discharge a sign of female infertility'?

Normal vs Abnormal Nipple Discharge

A little discharge from the nipples after the breasts have been stimulated may be considered normal. In the case of women who have breastfed an infant, it can take up to a year for the milk discharge to completely stop. However, persistent discharge from the nipples that is not associated with either of the above cases may be a sign of hormonal imbalance or a tumor in the pituitary gland. In such cases, the nipple discharge may be clear, milky or have a greenish tinge. Both these causes of nipple discharge could impact a woman's fertility. Bloody discharge could be a sign of cancer and should not be ignored.

What Causes Nipple Discharge?

In the case of discharge caused by hormonal imbalance, prolactin is to be blamed. Higher than normal levels of this hormone is referred to as hyperprolactinemia. This may be caused by hypothyroidism or a benign pituitary microadenoma.

How Does Hyperprolactinemia Cause Infertility

Hyperprolactinemia can contribute towards infertility in many ways. Firstly, it may disrupt ovulation. If the woman's body does not release an egg in time, the menstrual cycles will be affected. Depending on the severity of the case, menstrual cycles may be irregular or may stop completely.

In the cases of mild hyperprolactinemia, the ovaries may release an egg in time but the body may not produce adequate amounts of progesterone. This shortens the luteal phase that follows ovulation. As a result, if the egg is fertilised, it may not be able to attach itself to the uterus. Thus the woman may miscarry even before she realises that she is pregnant.