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6 months ago
Is bloody nipple discharge during pregnancy normal?

The thought itself is scary, isn’t it? Imagine if you suddenly notice blood oozing out of your nipples for no rhyme and reason. Sure it is going to freak you out, no matter whether you are pregnant or not. But during pregnancy a lot of changes happen to your breast — they grow in size, start to produce milk, prepare for the lactation phase, get sore and tender, etc. But still bleeding through your nipple is not something you will expect during pregnancy. At worst, nipple discharge or even bloody discharge from breast could be indicative of an untoward incident like breast cancer, but bloody discharge during pregnancy is usually unheard of. Here are symptoms of breast cancer that you should never ignore.

But if you are pregnant and see some blood oozing out of your breasts, don’t fret. Though rare, bloody discharge during pregnancy can be absolutely normal. A study trying to explore the various changes happening in the body during pregnancy pointed out that a marginal section of women can suffer from bloody discharge during pregnancy. As the blood flow in the breasts increases rapidly during pregnancy it can change the dynamics of the epithelial cells of the breasts and lead to bloody discharge through the nipple. The chance of experiencing this kind of discharge is more at the end of the second trimester or during the third trimester. Here are changes that happen to your breast during pregnancy.

Slight bloody nipple discharge accounts to approximately 20 percent of nipple discharge during pregnancy and 15 percent during lactation. This phenomenon mostly stops as the mother starts breastfeeding. But in very rare cases can persist throughout the whole lactation period. Diagnostic cytology tests must be performed for the wounds of nipples by feeding. If the result, physical examination and ultrasound are normal, the follow-up test should be recommended in a timely manner.

Even though studies might suggest that it is harmless if you notice any such unusual symptom report it to your doctor. Another study was done in the year 1990 stated that blood discharge from nipple during pregnancy is usually harmless and was associated with an increase in breast size, usually the larger of the two. But close medical examination is indeed necessary as the symptom mimics those of breast cancer. This study also noticed that the incidence disappeared after two months of its onset. Even a close follow-up after three years have shown that there was no evidence of developed carcinoma in the breasts. But the study also warned that one should not ignore the symptom solely thinking that it is harmless as few cases of breast cancer during pregnancy have presented solely with a bloody nipple discharge. So, a close follow-up and check-up with the gynaecologist become necessary.

References:

Yu, J. H., Kim, M. J., Cho, H., Liu, H. J., Han, S.-J., & Ahn, T.-G. (2013). Breast diseases during pregnancy and lactation. Obstetrics & Gynecology Science, 56(3), 143—159. http://doi.org/10.5468/ogs.2013.56.3.143

1: Lafreniere R. Bloody nipple discharge during pregnancy: a rationale for conservative treatment. J Surg Oncol. 1990 Apr;43(4):228-30. PubMed PMID: 2325421.

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