What Does Mammary Duct Ectasia Feel Like?

Mammary duct ectasia is a benign condition characterized by clogging of milk-carrying ducts near the nipple. The ducts become blocked due to the filling of a thick sticky fluid. They become widened and dilated. This condition is usually without symptoms and recovers by itself without treatment. If the symptoms are present, then they are represented by pain, tenderness, and discomfort in the breast especially near the nipple with the oozing of a discharge from the nipple.

What Does Mammary Duct Ectasia Feel Like?

What Does Mammary Duct Ectasia Feel Like?

Some women feel a hard lump near the nipple. It is most common in women of premenopausal age. It may develop even after the menopause. Women’s breast comprises a number of milk-producing glands and ducts that carry the secretion of the glands. Milk Ducts are surrounded by fatty, fibrous and glandular tissue. These tissues undergo changes from adolescent to old age. The tissues convert from glandular to fatty tissues. This induces the widening and dilatation of the milk ducts with the age. The ducts get shorten and widen and the fluid in the ducts get collected in them. This condition is called mammary duct ectasia. This may produce irritation in the lining of the ducts. This may result in pain in some cases.

Mammary duct ectasia mostly represents no symptom. It gets cured by itself without medicines. But it represents symptoms; it causes pain and irritation in the area near the nipples. There can be a discharge from the one or both nipples. This discharge is thick sometimes watery which can be white, green or black in color. It is sometimes blood-stained too.

In Mammary duct ectasia, you may also feel a lump behind the nipple. The nipples may appear red or pink with tenderness and irritation. Scarring or infection of the nipple can be the reason behind this appearance of the lump. Sometimes the nipples get inverted or pulled inwards due to shortened ducts.

Mammary duct ectasia recovers by itself without medicines or any other treatment. Once it recovers, nipples also return back to their normal condition.

Mammary duct ectasia is not a cancerous condition. It does not lead to cancer. It is not a risk factor of cancer. Untreated cases of mammary ectasia may cause excess leaking of fluid from the nipples. This condition is more frustrating and embarrassing when it wets or stains the clothes. It also causes swelling, redness in the breast which makes it tender and painful around the nipples. Sometimes, the affected duct may develop a bacterial infection that may lead to pain, malaise, and fever. The untreated infection may result in accumulation of pus in the breast tissue which is also called breast abscess.

Causes Of Mammary Duct Ectasia

The exact cause of mammary duct ectasia is not clear. It is associated with the following factors-

Aging- there are many changes in the tissue of the breast with increasing age. It turns to more fatty from glandular tissue. This process is called involution. These changes may interrupt and block the milk duct leading to its inflammation. Mammary duct ectasia approaches near a menopausal age and even after the menopause in some of the cases.

Smoking- smoking is one of the risk factors that can trigger the inflammation of the mammary duct ectasia.

Inversion Of The Nipple- inversion of the nipple can clog the milk ducts resulting infection and inflammation of the duct. However, if the nipple becomes inverted, it is possibly a sign of a serious medical condition.


Mammary duct ectasia is caused by the blocking of the milk ducts around the nipple. It represents no symptom many times. But you experience symptoms, you may feel pain, discomfort in the breast, with a thick sticky discharge from the nipple and a lump around the nipple. In most cases, the mammary duct ectasia condition resolves by itself without medications.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 4, 2018

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