What Causes Leaking Breasts & What to do About it?

Understanding Leaking Breasts!

Leaking breasts can be a reminder that lactation is really going well. Usually mothers of newborn have leaking breasts. However, leaking breasts at times may not be related to pregnancy or breastfeeding. There are also some other causes of leaking breast, which we will discuss in the following array of the article. We will also know about what to do about the leaking breast.

What Causes Leaking Breasts & What to do About it?

What Causes Leaking Breasts?

We will study the causes of leaking breast under two sub categories.

  1. Pregnancy, Lactation and Leaking Breasts:

    For most women, one of the most obvious causes of leaking breast is that they are pregnant or they are at their breastfeeding phase. This is because, such phases, can cause a milky discharge to come out of their nipples.

    In pregnant phases, the breasts may begin to produce milk from the second trimester and some women also continue producing milk up to two years or more after stopping breastfeeding.

    Some mothers may; however, leak only during early weeks of nursing. The oxytocin hormone, which causes MER or Milk Ejection Reflex or letdown, is responsible for this leaking breast while nursing your baby.

  2. Non-Pregnancy Causes of Leaking Breasts:

    If you are not pregnant or not breastfeeding, and still having leaking breasts, then following may be some of the causes of leaking breast.

  1. Excessive Breast Stimulation:

    Excessive stimulation of breast can cause your nipple to gush a little bit. This can be caused by being folded, and also by irritation from the clothes you wear; for instance, in a sports bra, your boobs are bouncing around as you are running and get chafed as a result. So, one cause of leaking breast can be excessive breast stimulation.

  2. Use of Medications or Herbs Can Cause Leaking Breast:

    There are some medications which can cause nipple discharge or leaking breasts. Oral hormonal birth control and some antidepressants are known to be causing leaking breasts.

    • It is essential for you to talk to your doctor about the leaking breast, if you feel it might be caused because of some medicines that you take.
    • Apart from this, some herbs like fennel and anise also cause leaking breasts. You need to cut these herbs out from your diet so as to prevent leaking breasts.
    • Even Marijuana, heroine, morphine, etc also cause leaking breasts.
  3. You Have Fibrous Breasts:

    If you have fibrous breasts, then you may also suffer from leaking breasts. Fibrous breast tissues can be painful and itchy and you may find clear, white or yellow or green discharge coming out from the nipples. You need to talk to your doctor, in case you notice such symptoms of leaking breast along with the texture of your breast being lumpy.

  4. You Are stressed Out:

    Sometimes, even stress can cause leaking breasts. When you are stressed, your body releases prolactin, which is a stress hormone. This hormone causes milky white nipple discharge. You need to keep yourself away from more of stress that might be causing leaking breasts.

  5. Fluctuations in Menstrual Hormones:

    During menstruation, women meet with fluctuations in their hormone levels. Hormone levels during menstruation are peaking and diving all the time. One of the potential side effects of fluctuations in menstrual hormone can be leaking breast or discharge from your nipple. Talk to your gynecologist about the options that can help leaking breasts.

  6. Breast Infections Causing leaking Breast:

    Leaking breast can also be a sign of breast infections. If your discharge contains pus in it then that could be an indication of breast infection or breast abscess. This actually is very common in women who are breastfeeding; however, it can also occur even if you are not breastfeeding. Usually, breast infections or abscesses in breast, come along with soreness, redness or warmth in breasts. Talk to your medical professional in case you find any such symptoms.

  7. You Have Hypothyroidism:

    Hypothyroidism is one common disorder where your thyroid gland does not make enough of thyroid hormone. One common side effect of hypothyroidism can be leaking breast or a kind of discharge from your nipple. You may also feel less energized than usual in case you have hypothyroidism. You need to talk to your doctor if you experience leaking breast and feel less energized.

  8. You May Have A Non-Cancerous Breast Tumor:

    Leaking from breasts or discharge from nipple can also indicate that you have a noncancerous or benign tumor growing in the breast ducts. This can be referred to as intraductal papilloma and can show up suddenly in a single breast duct and cause discharge that is bloody, sticky. In fact, these are the most common causes of abnormal leaking breasts. Though, such benign tumors go away on their own, you still need to get an ultrasound from your doctor so as to make sure that everything is okay.

  9. Breast Cancer Can Cause Leaking Breast:

    It must be mentioned that most leaking breasts are not cancer. However, even breast cancer has a symptom of discharge from nipple along with lump in your breast. Sometimes, you may also see the leakage from breast contain blood. In such case, you need to seek immediate medical attention and get yourself diagnosed and treated well.

When Should You See A Doctor In Leaking Breasts?

It is true that leaking breast, especially without being pregnant or breastfeeding can be freaky. However, we already know some of the causes of leaking breast. Here, we will talk about the symptoms where you actually need to see a doctor in leaking breasts.

  • If you have leaking breast spontaneously. This can be worrisome.
  • If discharge from your breasts comes either clear or bloody red.
  • In case only one breast is leaking.
  • If you are a make and you are experiencing leakage from your nipple. This is absolutely not normal and you should pay strict attention towards it.

What to Do About Leaking Breasts?

  • In order to cope up with leaking breasts because of pregnancy or breastfeeding, that is natural; you need to follow the below mentioned steps.
  • Apply firm pressure to your breasts by crossing your arms over your chest and hugging yourself, when you start feeling the tingly sensation of milk letdown.
  • Use cloth nursing pads instead of the disposables, which have been associated with breastfeeding issues. You can prepare your own nursing pads from cut-up cloth diapers. In case you are nursing your child at home, keep a cloth diaper nearby so as to soak up milk from the leaking breast.
  • Wear clothing that camouflages wetness.
  • In case you see more of milk is leaking then try to breastfeed more often or express milk out manually.

However, in case you have any other problem causing the leaking breast, which is not related to pregnancy or breastfeeding, then you need to have a doctor’s attention and find out the cause behind it. There are several ways you can opt for treating the underlying medical cause of leaking breast and sort your problem out effectively. Do not wear tight clothing, talk to your doctor if you feel your medication might be causing leaking breast and find out a replacement for it, go for the essential dietary changes and exercise changes that may help you stop leaking breast. Keep yourself relax and stress free so as to stop leaking breast that are caused due to stress. There are various new medical approaches which can be used to treat leaking breasts, especially which are caused due to breast cancer and other serious underlying problems.


Now that we are aware of some of the causes of leaking breast and also know about what to do about it; you can find it a bit easier to deal with your issue of leaking breasts. It is always advisable to talk to your healthcare provider and go for the necessary diagnosis and essential treatments for your condition.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 9, 2018

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