Why Knowing Your Vagina's pH Level Matters
Before we dive into talking about Vaginal pH, let’s go back to our middle school science class to revisit what pH is.
- pH is essentially a scale or metric that is used to determine how acidic/alkaline or basic a substance is.
- It measures the substance on a scale of 0 to 14.
- Acidic substances (like sour things- Vinegar, Citrus Fruits, etc.) are classified as having a pH level below 7
- Basic substances (includes soap, toothpaste, etc.) are classified as having a pH level of above 7
- Water has a pH of 7, hence it comes in the middle and is considered neutral.
Now you may be thinking, what does this have to do with the vagina?
The answer is: your vagina maintains a pH balance of its own! What is it? Why is it necessary? What can happen if the pH level is imbalanced? Let’s find out!
The Vagina and pH
The pH of the vagina plays a big role in the health of your whole reproductive system. The ideal pH balance of the vagina is between 3.8 to 4.5. (In circumstances like menopause or after ovulation, the pH may increase above 4.5.)
From the scale we studied above, we can see that the vagina is acidic or alkaline in nature. This pH is maintained through lactic acid and a host of different bacteria that reside in the vagina.
Why is the pH level of the Vagina acidic? What happens if it's not?
This acidic pH level is not inconsequential-- in fact, it is one of the best defense mechanisms of your body! The acidic pH forms a protective shield that disables unhealthy bacteria or yeast from multiplying in the vagina. This means that if one’s pH balance is not at a healthy level, they will be more prone to certain conditions like:
- Yeast Infections- A weak “mucosal layer” as a result of imbalanced pH is the perfect environment for yeast infections to prosper.
- Bacterial Vaginosis- This is another condition wherein unhealthy bacteria multiplies giving your vagina a foul smell and excessive abnormal discharge.
How can you tell if you have an Imbalanced pH?
You will be able to notice abnormalities like a foul odor, excessive discharge, swelling, burning or itching sensation while urinating etc. To confirm, you can always go to your OBGYN who can decipher the pH level accurately.
What causes an imbalance in pH?
- One of the most common causes of an imbalance is using harsh soaps and other products on your vaginal area. This does not help “clean” your private parts. Rather, it removes the good bacteria from your system, causing a pH imbalance.
- Unprotected sex can also cause an imbalance. Since male semen is basic in nature, it can disturb the acidic nature of the vagina.
- Too much of moisture buildup in the area due to working out or wearing tight clothes can also be a cause.
How can you Prevent an Imbalance?
- Instead of using harsh soaps, wash your vaginal area only with water. The vagina is a self-cleaning body part so it doesn’t need to scrubbed with any kind of soap.
- Eating probiotic foods (i.e. foods that have live microorganisms in them) are known to help maintain a healthy pH balance in the vagina. The most easily available probiotic food is yoghurt!
- Don’t have unprotected sex: Use a condom or other forms of barrier contraceptives for a safe experience!
Knowing about the signs of a healthy and unhealthy pH can be very useful in diagnosing and seeking treatment for a variety of infections! If you suspect any abnormalities or suspect an imbalance, visit your doctor to figure out the next steps. Share this post with your friends and family so we can continue bridging the information gap!