Medical Q&As

Early adolescence - nipple discharge?

I am 12 years old and I have a slight yellow discharge from my breasts. At the moment I am starting to develop but I do not have my periods yet. My mum thought it would be a good idea to contact you about it to put my mind at ease. As she cannot remember whether she had the same herself.

It is not unusual for a girl approaching adolescence to develop a slight discharge from the nipples. The discharge is part of a series of events that occurs in the developing breasts under the influence of oestrogen. Oestrogen is secreted by the ovaries and it increases the amount of fat in the connective tissue of the breasts, which in turn increases the size of the breasts. The duct or tubing system within the breasts also begins to grow at this time, as does the glandular tissue, which eventually produces breast milk. These breast changes are usually accompanied by the appearance of pubic hair and hair under the armpits. Breast development normally precedes the onset of menstruation. Nipple discharge is a common experience in young women of your age group and there is no need for concern about this finding.