Vaginal pH balance is a top feminine concern. Every woman wants a well-functioning, healthy body, and maintaining vaginal health is a big part of achieving that.
Although women are born with a natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, this doesn’t always guarantee a lifetime of equilibrium. Many things can interfere with pH balance, including activities like sex, the use of tampons and other products, puberty, menopause, pregnancy, and even some medications. These activities can cause an imbalance in vaginal pH levels, leading to several problems including vaginal infections.
What is Vaginal pH Balance?
The pH level of any substance measures how acidic or basic it is on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being most acidic while 14 is the most basic. A healthy vagina is a bit acidic, with a pH of 3.5 to 4.5.
This slightly acidic environment is due to the lactobacilli bacteria, which is present in the vagina and produces lactic acid. Lactic acid helps protect the vagina from harmful bacteria.
When the pH levels rise above 4.5, the vagina becomes more alkaline. This increase in pH levels often result from an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the vagina. This overgrowth can lead to several problems like yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, vulvovaginal candidiasis, and trichomoniasis.Causes of unbalanced Vaginal pH
A pH level change can happen for a variety of reasons, including unhealthy feminine practices. They include:Douching
Flushing out your vagina with water or other cleansing fluids might make you feel cleaner, but it actually does the opposite. The fluids used in douching can remove good bacteria present in the vagina, and, in turn, can increase your pH levels and make you more susceptible to infections.Harsh soaps and cleansers
The vagina is self-cleansing and does not require any harsh soaps or cleansers. Using these cleansers can do more harm than good, as they can strip away the good bacteria in the vagina, throwing off pH balance.Infrequent change of pads or tampons
If you don't change your pad or tampon frequently enough, it can lead to an increase in the pH levels of the vagina. The blood and chemicals in the pad or tampon can cause an increase in the alkalinity of the vagina. Some better alternatives that won’t disrupt your pH balance are sustainable cloth pads and menstrual cups.Tight synthetic clothing
Some synthetic clothing may not allow the vagina to breathe as much as it needs to. Tight clothing can trap moisture and provide a warm environment for the growth of harmful bacteria, leading to an increase in the pH levels of the vagina.Unprotected Sex
When sperm enters the vagina, the pH level can become slightly more basic than acidic. It may also introduce new bacteria to the vagina, disrupting the pH balance.Symptoms of Unbalanced Vaginal pH Levels
Certain signs that can indicate that your vaginal pH levels are off balance. The most common symptoms include:
- Vaginal itching
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Bad fishy odor
- Pain during sex
- Urinary tract infections
Sometimes, the symptoms of an unbalanced vaginal pH are subtle. But other times, they can be pretty obvious. If you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, it's a good idea to get your pH checked.How Can I Balance my Vaginal pH?
Vaginal pH imbalances are common, and you can fix them with a few minor lifestyle changes. The most important is to maintain good hygiene and remember that small changes can often have an outsized impact your pH imbalance and overall vaginal health.
Some steps you can take to fix a pH imbalance include:
- Avoid douching so you don't strip away the good bacteria that keep your vagina pH balanced.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kimchi to get enough life bacteria that aid the healthy balance of vaginal flora.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes to help keep your vagina area dry, healthy, and free of infection.
- Avoid scented products that can cause irritation and disrupt the vaginal pH balance. Instead, go for unscented versions.
Maintaining a healthy pH balance in your vagina is crucial for avoiding unwanted infections. But stress, menopause, pregnancy, or sexual activity can disrupt that delicate balance. Luckily, restoring your vaginal pH levels and maintaining vaginal health is simpler than you might think - just follow the tips outlined in this article!