Vaginal discharge isn’t a typical symptom of ovarian cancer, but it should still be addressed. More common symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, and feeling overly full after eating.

Ovarian cancer is the second most common cancer affecting the female reproductive tract, behind only uterine cancer. It’s important to know the potential symptoms of ovarian cancer so that you can consult a doctor if you develop them.

Vaginal discharge isn’t a typical symptom of ovarian cancer, but it can be a symptom of another health condition that needs attention.

This article discusses what vaginal discharge from ovarian cancer might look like, as well as other, more common symptoms. Keep reading to learn more.

Vaginal discharge isn’t common in ovarian cancer. Overall, other symptoms occur more frequently. According to some research from 2012, bloating and pelvic pain are the most important symptoms for doctors to consider when they suspect ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer may cause abnormal vaginal discharge, including abnormal vaginal bleeding. This may be accompanied by more common ovarian cancer symptoms such as bloating and pain.

Even though it’s not a common symptom, abnormal vaginal discharge could lead people to seek medical attention, which could contribute to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

For example, a study based on survey data from 2008 found that people were more likely to see a doctor for abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding than for more common ovarian cancer symptoms such as bloating or a feeling of fullness shortly after eating.

What are abnormal vaginal discharge and abnormal vaginal bleeding?

Typical vaginal discharge is clear or white, and its quantity and consistency can vary depending on where you are in your cycle. However, it shouldn’t have a strong odor.

Vaginal discharge can be considered abnormal when there is a noticeable change in its color, quantity, consistency, or odor.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding can include:

How common is ovarian cancer, and what increases the risk?

According to the SEER Program of the National Cancer Institute, when compared with other cancers, ovarian cancer is rather rare. However, it’s the sixth leading cause of cancer-related death in people assigned female at birth.

Healthcare professionals will diagnose an estimated 19,680 new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States in 2024. The lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is 1.1%. Certain factors can increase the risk, including:

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Many people with ovarian cancer have no symptoms until the cancer has spread. When symptoms are present, the most common ones are:

Additional symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often nonspecific, meaning they could be due to many health conditions. Consult a doctor if you notice any symptoms that are persistent and different from what’s normal for you.

Early detection is vital

Ovarian cancer is treatable if it’s diagnosed and treated early, especially if it’s found while it’s only in your ovaries. Ovarian cancer that has spread beyond your ovaries is more challenging to treat, and the outlook is less favorable.

Be sure to make an appointment with a doctor to discuss any new or concerning symptoms you’ve noticed. If your symptoms are due to ovarian cancer, early diagnosis and treatment are essential.

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Abnormal vaginal discharge can be due to several different health conditions. The table below lists these as well as the type of discharge each can cause.

ConditionType of vaginal dischargeOther notable symptoms
bacterial vaginosisthin white or gray discharge with a fishy odoritching, discomfort, painful urination
trichomoniasisfoul-smelling discharge that’s green to yellow in coloritching, discomfort, painful urination
gonorrheaincreased vaginal discharge that may be yellow, green, or creamy in colorpainful or frequent urination, bleeding between periods
chlamydiayellow vaginal discharge that may have an odorpainful or frequent urination, bleeding between periods
vaginal yeast infectionthick white dischargeitching, discomfort, painful urination
atrophic vaginitisthin yellow or gray dischargevaginal dryness, itching, discomfort, pain during sex
cervical polypsyellowish dischargeabnormal vaginal bleeding
vulvar cancerany abnormal vaginal dischargea bump, lump, or ulcer on your vulva; itching; discomfort
vaginal cancerany abnormal vaginal dischargeabnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during sex, a mass you can feel
cervical cancerwatery discharge that has a strong odor and can contain bloodabnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain
vaginal foreign bodyfoul-smelling discharge that can contain blood or puspelvic pain

Abnormal vaginal discharge that may happen with abnormal uterine bleeding is an uncommon symptom of ovarian cancer. Generally, these symptoms are more likely to be caused by another health condition.

Many people with ovarian cancer have no symptoms until the cancer has spread. More common symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, abdominal or pelvic pain, and a full feeling shortly after eating.

The outlook for ovarian cancer is better when the cancer is diagnosed and treated early. Therefore, it’s important to consult a doctor as soon as you can to discuss any new or concerning symptoms that are persistent or different from what’s typical for you.