Why Having A pH Balanced Vagina Matters
Just like you care for the pH balance of your skin, it's also important to take care of your vagina too. Your vaginal pH matters because it can have an impact on your overall health. Even though your V has the ability to self clean, what you eat, medications you take, stress levels, products you use, sex, mensuration, and hormones all have an effect on your pH level. When you experience symptoms such as itching, redness, burning, or other forms of irritation, this is your body letting you know that your pH may out of whack.
So what is pH? It’s the scale of acidity and alkalinity measured from 0 to 14. Less than 7 on the pH scale is acidic, and 7 is alkaline. A normal vaginal pH is between 3.8 and 4.5 during the reproductive years (ages 15 to 49), but this can change outside of those years. A healthy pH level may be closer to 4.5 before puberty and post-menopause. The acidity of the vagina helps control bacteria and prevents the overgrowth of infection-causing anaerobes and other unfriendly pathogens, such as Mycoplasma hominis and Gardnerella vaginalis, which prefer a higher pH. An acidic environment creates good bacteria known as Lactobacillus. This friendly bacteria produces hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid to keep the vagina slightly acidic, which fights against infection and irritation. A majority of harmful micro-organisms can’t survive at a low pH! However, if your pH is on the higher scale, this means low numbers of this good bacteria, which can lead to yeast infections, odor, or an overgrowth of bad bacteria known as bacterial vaginosis. High pH levels also increase the risk of contracting STIs, infertility, pre-term births, pelvic inflammatory disease and post-hysterectomy infection.
How does the vagina's pH gets unbalanced?
First of all, the most important thing is to look for cleansing products that are specifically formulated to keep vaginal pH intact. Steer clear of propylene glycol, which derives from petroleum oil and can be found in a lot of lubricants, and any products that contain fragrance or perfume, sulfates, alcohols, silicones, parabens, dyes, and mineral oil. All of these will strip that friendly lactobacilli out of its place. It’s important to keep in mind that using an external pH balancing product doesn’t move your pH back to its proper acidity if it's already out of balance, but it won’t push you to an imbalance and helps maintain a healthy one once you’ve fixed the issue internally (as long as it’s not formulated with the ingredients listed above) We offer multiple 100% all-natural cleansing products that are free of all the bad ingredients listed above!
Anything from oral or internal contraceptives to hormonal replacement therapy affects your pH. Our hormones, mainly estrogen, play a large part in keeping our pH acidic and our vaginas healthy. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy often cause a high pH that leads to vaginal infections, and when breastfeeding or starting menopause, estrogen levels are low, and sometimes result in conditions like vaginal atrophy and also cause a higher pH.
Semen has a pH between 7.1 to 8, so introducing it into your vagina can trigger a change in your balance. If you experience irritation after sex, barrier protection can help semen and other bacteria from disrupting the vagina.
Bacteria and yeast thrive in warm, wet environments like sweaty workout clothes and wet swimsuits, so its always best to change out of wet clothes as soon as possible. Even synthetic materials like latex, or wearing tight clothes like skinny jeans or thongs can affect your vagina's pH.
Consuming processed foods, too much sugar, simple carbs, or not drinking enough water can break down the healthy community of microbes in your gut, which keeps your vagina healthy too. Eating foods with natural anti-fungal properties like yogurt and garlic can help fight off bad bacteria in your body.
Menstrual blood has a pH of 7.4, some bodies can handle the difference, but some find that they are prone to infection during or after menstruation. When using products like tampons and pads, they absorb your menstrual fluid and all bacteria, good and bad. They can stop the good bacteria from keeping your pH balanced and can give the bad bacteria a surface to grow on. When using these products, you’ll need to change them at a minimum of every four hours. Medical-grade silicone menstrual discs or cups are a great alternative and won’t disrupt your pH (when cleaned properly).
You might feel the need to clean the inside of your vagina with water or cleansers, but this is not necessary since your vagina cleans itself! Even plain water has a pH of 7, which is far above the acidic ideal we want, and fragrances used in some douches can irritate your vagina. Washing the external part of your vagina (the vulva) is all that’s needed.
Paying close attention to your body is an important part of avoiding pH issues and infection, and with that said, remember that it’s normal for the consistency and scent of your discharge to change throughout your menstrual cycle. If you notice a strong or unpleasant smell, make an appointment to see your gynecologist. We would also like to remind everyone to ask your doctor about getting a CA-125 blood test at your next appointment, a cervical smear does not detect ovarian cancer and the HPV vaccine does not prevent it. Symptoms are not always obvious, and can be as simple as: bloating, abdominal/pelvic/back pain, feeling full quickly, frequent or urgent urination, change in bowel habits, indigestion, unexplained weight loss/gain, painful intercourse, fatigue, and or menstrual irregularities.