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Expert Advice: When Is Green Discharge From Breasts a Cause for Concern?

Depending on the circumstances, there may be no cause for alarm.

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Any sort of discharge from one or both of your breasts can be alarming, especially if you’re not breastfeeding. Whether it’s benign or not, there is always a root cause, and finding the cause is incredibly important.

If your doctor tells you that the cause is benign, you can breathe a sigh of relief — but that isn’t the end of the story. The discharge may still continue. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce it and ease any additional symptoms (like aches or pains). One of our readers wrote to our expert to ask about green discharge, and here’s what she learned.

Meet our expert.

Barbara DePree, MD, is a gynecologist in private practice and director of Women’s Midlife Services at Michigan’s Holland Hospital. A Certified Menopause Practitioner, she is the founder of MiddlesexMD.com, an educational resource for women’s sexual health in perimenopause and beyond. To ask her a question, send an email to health@firstforwomen.com.

Green Discharge That Isn’t a Cause for Concern

Q: An ultrasound confirmed my breasts are fibrocystic. My doctor says it’s nothing to worry about, but now I have a green discharge from my nipples and increased tenderness before my periods. Help!

A: Don’t be alarmed. Fibrocystic breasts occur when fibrous tissue and fluid-filled cysts form in the breasts, causing tender, moveable lumps or thickening tissue that can be constant or cyclical (and can cause the discharge you describe). The condition is triggered by hormonal changes, so it usually disappears after menopause and doesn’t pose additional risk for breast cancer.

Supplementing with one to three grams of evening primrose oil daily can ease tenderness, as can applying ice to your breasts and taking 400 milligrams of ibuprofen as needed. Nursing pads will absorb the discharge, which can be green, yellow, or brown. But see your doctor if the discharge is bloody or symptoms persist after a few weeks. She may need to remove fluid from the cysts with a simple in-office procedure.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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