Most women in their reproductive years have a vaginal pH balanced between 3.8 and 4.5 on the pH scale. But some conditions, lifestyle changes, or infections can change the pH balance in the vaginal area, which can cause uncomfortable symptoms like vaginal fluid or itching. In this article, we'll discuss vaginal pH balance, the causes of Vaginal pH imbalance, and ways to maintain vaginal pH balance.
What Is pH?
The pH scale is a scale from 1 to 14 that shows how acidic or alkaline something is. The number 1 is the most acidic, and the number 14 is the most alkaline. The letters pH stand for "Potential Hydrogen," which means that the numbers on the pH scale are based on how many hydrogen atoms are present.
For example, water has a pH of 7, which means it is neutral. Lemon juice or vinegar, which are acidic, have a pH level of 2, while bleach or liquid drain cleaner has a pH level of 14. Blood, which has a pH of 7, is more alkaline than the vagina, and so is sperm, which has a pH of 7.2 to 8.2.
Read Next: Apple Cider Vinegar: Everything You Need To Know
What Is Typical Vaginal pH Balance?
Research shows that a typical vaginal pH balance is somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5 on the pH scale. This means that it is slightly acidic. Lactobacilli, which are bacteria that live in the vagina and make lactic acid, are to blame for this mild acidity. And lactic acid helps keep alkaline bacteria from making too much acid, which helps keep a healthy pH balance in the vaginal area.
If lactobacilli production goes down, on the other hand, the pH scale will go up. This means that the vaginal ecosystem is becoming more alkaline. This alkaline environment makes it easy for harmful bacteria to grow, which can lead to yeast infections or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). It also makes it harder for women to avoid getting sexually transmitted infections.
Causes Of Vaginal pH Imbalance
1. Unprotected Sex
Having sex without protection can change the vaginal pH balance in two ways. First of all, sperm is more alkaline than the vagina, which is naturally acidic, and having sex can temporarily change the vagina's natural pH balance. Most of the time, this will get better after a while, and it is nothing to worry about. The pH of the vaginal area can be brought back into balance by gently washing it with warm water and unscented soap after sexual activity.
Sexual activity without protection can also cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which in turn cause a change in the vaginal pH and symptoms that are specific to the STI. Also, having sexual relations with more than one person will lead to a higher number of bacteria and a bigger change in the vagina's natural pH.
Use a condom to avoid getting an STI or a change in your vaginal pH from having sex without protection. According to a report in the Journal of Epidemiology, women who are sexually active are 63% less likely to get STIs or BV if they use condoms all the time.
Recommended Read: Reasons To Avoid Unprotected Sex
2. Vaginal Douching
Douching is a popular way in the United States to clean the genital area with water and other liquids. But research has shown that douching decreases the number of good bacteria called lactobacilli. This makes the vagina more alkaline and makes it easier for bad bacteria to grow.
When these unwanted bacteria grow, they interrupt the vaginal pH balance. This can lead to vaginal infections like yeast infections or BV, as well as problems during pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Wash the intimate parts with warm water and unscented soap instead of douching. Neither of these will change the pH balance in your vaginal area. Women's vaginas are organs that clean themselves, so they don't need to be rinsed from the inside.
When it comes to vaginal hygiene, it is also helpful to know that wiping the female genitalia from back to front after using the bathroom will stop harmful bacteria from spreading from the anus to the vagina.
During menstruation, bleeding can change the pH of the vaginal fluid. During perimenopause and menopause, the pH level can also change. It is thought that this is because of a change in hormones, especially a drop in estrogen. One recent study found that during menopause, the average pH of a woman's vaginal fluid is 5.3. In this case, the best way to get the pH back in balance is to get the hormones back in balance.
Some menopausal women take natural supplements like Chasteberry from Intimate Rose, while others choose hormone replacement therapy. Most of the time, it's best to talk to your doctor about your options since menopause can cause different symptoms in different women.
Relatable Read: Menopause: The Beginners Guide To Dealing With It
4. Menstruation And Tampons
Menstrual blood is more alkaline than vaginal fluid, so it can change the pH, but usually just a little bit. But using tampons when you have your period can throw off the pH balance even more. Tampons soak up liquid, but they can also soak up the good lactobacilli bacteria in the vagina, which can change the pH of the vagina.
Ways To Maintain Vaginal pH Balance
1. Protected Sex
When having sex, you must always use a condom. They keep you from getting STDs or getting pregnant without wanting to. But what if we told you that it could also help you keep the pH level in your vaginal area stable? You're right. Semen is a little bit alkaline, and putting it directly in your vagina can actually change its natural pH.
Probiotics have been shown to be very helpful when it comes to keeping the pH level in the vaginal area stable. This is mostly because lactobacilli are in probiotics. As we've already said, lactobacilli are good bacteria that make our vagina acidic. This acidity helps keep infections away, which means that the bad bacteria can't get in. So, taking probiotic supplements or eating probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt or kefir can help you keep your vaginal pH stable or bring it back to normal.
Recommended Read: Synbiotic Foods: A Combination of Prebiotics and Probiotics
3. Consult a Gynaecologist
We all know that most of us try to avoid going to a gynaecologist. But that might not be the best way to go about it. Most of the time, we can't tell for ourselves if our sexual and intimate health is good. So going to the gynaecologist regularly is a good way to make sure we don't get any infections down there and that our vaginal pH stays in the right range.
4. Use Intimate Foam Wash
There are many intimate wash foams on the market today, and they can help you keep or get your vaginal pH back to where it should be. The best organic vaginal washes will clean and moisturize your vagina and keep you from getting irritated or itching. It can also help stop bacterial and fungal infections and keep your vagina's pH at a healthy level.
Suggested Read: How to Choose the Right Intimate Hygiene Product?
Even though many women have changes in their vaginal pH balance over the course of their lives, it can usually be fixed naturally and easily. You can protect your vagina and keep bacteria levels in check by not douching and not having sex without protection.
Vaginal pH balance can also be kept at a healthy level by using good hygiene, wearing the right clothes, and taking a probiotic or supplement every day. Lastly, making regular appointments with your gynaecologist or other health care provider will help you stay informed.
Also Read: How To Maintain A Healthy Vagina?