Balancing the pH might sound like something straight from a chemistry class. The addition of the word “vaginal” can easily make us squirm. That, too, in a literal sense, because any changes down below – such as a different odor or unusually high discharge – can be because of disturbances in vaginal pH.
What is a “balanced” pH? In the case of vaginas, the pH should typically be in the range of 3.8 to 4.5. If the pH is unbalanced for too long, bacteria grab the opportunity to multiply and cause discomfort or urinary tract infections (UTIs). This doesn’t imply that you need to check the pH of your vagina all the time (although home testing can accelerate diagnosis and treatment in case of bacterial vaginosis).
Fear not, ladies. Vaginas do a great job keeping themselves clean and safe. You can keep your pH in check with proper vaginal health practices, such as maintaining good hygiene, showing up for regular gynecological check-ups, and practicing safe sex.
What is the easiest way to keep the health below the belt in check, you ask? Well, it is eating good food, especially the eight items we list here.
1. Probiotics for the good bacteria
Fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi are rich in probiotics and good for not just your gut but also your vagina. They help prevent infections and balance the pH. Since these foods contain active and live cultures, they enhance the good bacteria in the body and help ward off yeast infections. What’s great is that yogurt also contains a lot of calcium which helps prevent PMS. Probiotics for vaginal health can also be taken as an oral supplement. Vaginal probiotics products such as Pro-Fem are changing the way women proactively take care of their vaginal health.
- Help introduce good bacteria and balance the pH
- Prevent bacterial and yeast infections
- Alleviate PMS symptoms because of calcium (in yogurt)
2. Cranberries for UTIs
We have all come across cranberries as the cure for UTIs. However, do they really work?
100% cranberry juice (without any added sugars) or, better yet, fresh cranberries, are powerful immunity-boosting agents. They are rich in antioxidants and acidic compounds that prevent bacteria from latching onto the vaginal walls. Many studies showcase their efficacy in preventing UTIs in women experiencing recent or recurrent UTIs. Always ensure that you are not consuming the sugar-laden stuff that does more harm than good.
- Rich in antibacterial acidic compounds
- Loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin E which boost immunity
3. Plant-based fats for sexual drive and enhanced circulation
Your sex drive can definitely take a boost due to enhanced circulation that occurs with the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Sea buckthorn oil contains these fatty acids and others such as palmitic, oleic, linoleic, and palmitoleic acids, which have been shown to reduce vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women in a 2014 study.
Tired of menstrual cramps? Studies show that fish oil can be even more effective than ibuprofen in easing menstrual cramps!
- Prevent vaginal dryness and enhance circulation
- Better than ibuprofen at treating menstrual cramps
- Present in oily fish, eggs, flax seed, and walnuts
4. Apples for orgasms
We’ve all heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but apparently, apples make things interesting in bed too! A 2014 study showed that women who ate apples every day experienced better sex lives. Phloridzin, a phytoestrogen present in apples improves lubrication, arousal, sexual function, and the ability to orgasm.
Bonus: The consumption of two or more servings of citrus fruit every day decreases the likelihood of developing uterine fibroids
- Enhance vaginal blood flow due to the presence of antioxidants and phloridzin
- Improve lubrication, sexual function, and the ability to orgasm
5. Avocados for the vaginal walls
Who would have thought that the fan-favorite toast topper is also fantastic for your sex life? Avocados are loaded with potassium, vitamin B6, and healthy fats, all of which can improve your libido.
This fruit (yes, avocados are fruits!) improves lubrication and increases estrogen levels, strengthening the vaginal walls and possibly even increasing IVF because of its unsaturated fat content. Funnily, the Aztecs loosely labeled the avocado tree as the “testicle tree”.
- Available as oil for cooking
- Improve lubrication and strengthen vaginal walls
- Boost libido with potassium, vitamin B-6, and healthy fats
6. Soy for some estrogen
Soy can be controversial for some. However, phytoestrogens, which are compounds that mimic estrogen, present in soy are great for vaginal health, particularly in people with low estrogen levels. Estrogen levels may decrease for many reasons, including menopause and medication, and manifests as vaginal dryness.
Minimally-processed soy products are rich in isoflavones (plant-derived phytoestrogen) for better skin health in postmenopausal women and are hydrophilic, allowing muscles to retain water.
- Beneficial for women with low estrogen levels (which causes vaginal dryness) as they contain plant-based phytoestrogen
- Improve blood vessel and skin health in post-menopausal women
- Bonus tip: choose minimally-processed soy products, such as miso, tempeh, edamame, and tofu
7. Sweet potatoes for better fertility
Sweet potatoes have many sweet benefits, especially for women struggling with fertility issues. They are loaded with vitamin A and beta carotene which improve the health of the uterine walls. Moreover, beta carotene and vitamin A have been proven to directly impact fertility in both women and men, in addition to ensuring the healthy development of the embryo.
Many of the nutrients present in sweet potatoes have been shown to increase the production of sex hormones and are indicated for women experiencing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Contain large quantities of vitamin A, enhancing fertility
- Strengthen the muscular walls of the vagina and the uterus
8. Leafy greens against vaginal dryness
Is there anything that leafy greens are not good for?! One component of the long list of benefits of leafy greens is improved vaginal health. Dark leafy greens contain various nutrients, such as dietary nitrates, that improve circulation and purify the blood. This helps get rid of vaginal dryness and enhance stimulation and when was that ever a bad thing?
Leafy greens are also loaded with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E which are great for muscle health, including vaginal muscles.
- Enhance circulation and purify the blood
- Improve stimulation and prevent dryness of the vagina
- Include collard greens, spinach, kale, and chard
Avoid foods that make your pee smell before sex
Are you wondering what food you should not eat? The rule of thumb is to avoid any food that contains trans fats, contains added sugars, or is processed.
If you plan to have sex, you may wish to avoid asparagus which temporarily alters the smell of your pee.
With the consumption of these eight simple foods, you can prioritize yourself and your vagina. A better option is to try coming up with recipes that include many of these foods! One healthy, vegetarian meal would be lentil stew which contains half of these, namely avocado, Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens.