Sunday, November 23, 2014

Vaginal Discharge

A small amount of daily vaginal discharge is common in most women. Some breast cancer treatments can cause more or different discharge.

Normal discharge is usually:

  • clear, white, or opaque in color
  • odorless
  • thin and sticky or thick and gooey in appearance

Abnormal discharge can be:

  • more voluminous than usual
  • thick and white or yellowish in color (sometimes resembling cottage cheese); a cottage-cheese-like discharge can be a sign of a yeast infection. If you think you might have a yeast infection, call your doctor. Medicines are available to help.

If the discharge looks bloody, see a doctor immediately. Bloody discharge can be a sign of a serious medical condition.

The following breast cancer treatments can cause vaginal discharge:

  • chemotherapy
  • tamoxifen, a hormonal therapy
  • Fareston (chemical name: toremifene), a hormonal therapy

Some bisphosphonates (bone-strengthening medicines) can cause a white vaginal discharge as a side effect.

Managing vaginal discharge

  • Take daily showers or baths using gentle soap and warm water. Make sure to pat the area dry to avoid further irritation of the vagina. Avoid bubble baths.
  • Don’t douche and stay away from vaginal sprays and deodorants that can irritate the vagina.
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet to avoid spreading bacteria.
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing so the vaginal area can breathe.
  • Use panty liners to help absorb excess discharge. Avoid scented tampons and pads, which can irritate the area.
  • Use condoms to prevent spread of possible infection to your partner. Avoid vaginal contraceptives because they increase the risk of infection.

Breastcancer.org's mission is to help women and their loved ones make sense of the complex medical and personal information about breast health and breast cancer, so they can make the best decisions for their lives. Medical information on the Breastcancer.org web site and in our printed materials is reviewed by members of our Professional Advisory Board, which includes over 60 practicing medical professionals from around the world who are leaders in their fields. We are a nonprofit organization supported by individuals, foundations, and corporations. Find more about us here.