pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity and is expressed on a scale of 0 to 14 with lower numbers indicating acidity and higher numbers indicating alkalinity of an environment or a substance. When talking about pH, we are usually discussing the acidity and alkalinity of solutions; however, different parts of the body, such as hair and underarms, also have different pH levels. Their pH is maintained by various products produced by the body.
The vagina is one of the parts of the body whose pH maintenance is very important. The healthy vaginal pH is slightly acidic (between 3.5 to 4.5). This is the optimum pH range for “good” vaginal bacteria to flourish and outnumber “bad” bacteria. Moreover, maintenance of the pH helps the delicate balance of yeast cells in the vagina to also be maintained.
Imbalance in Vaginal pH
Disruption in vaginal pH causes disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria and fungi to increase in number. Consequently, the vagina becomes prone to infections. This is why the treatment of yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV), and urinary tract infections (UTIs) involves the measurement of the vaginal pH to find the best way to regain the healthy balance of vaginal flora. Substances that cause an increase in vaginal pH include semen (pH between 7.1 and 8), menstrual blood (pH 7.4), and body washes (pH usually higher than 5.5). The vaginal pH also changes throughout the menstrual cycle. Probiotics help in the maintenance of the vaginal pH and thus help prevent infections and foul odor.
How to Maintain a Healthy Vaginal pH
Although the vagina is self-sufficient when it comes to maintaining its flora, certain habits can help improve this natural function. These include:
- Not Douching
The vagina is self-cleaning. Douches can cause an imbalance in the vaginal pH and remove healthy bacteria. Instead of cleansing solutions, it is better to use a mild soap and water to clean the vulva.
- Using Condoms
Because of the high pH of semen, using condoms is a good idea to prevent disruption of the acidic vaginal pH.
- Take Probiotics
Taking vaginal probiotics supplements with the most clinically tested strains of probiotics, GR-1 and RC-14 such as Pro-Fem. Probiotics are great at helping healthy vaginal bacteria flourish. Supplements such as Pro-Fem contain clinically proven probiotic strains that promote vaginal health.
- Wear Cotton Underwear
Cotton is a breathable natural fabric with excellent moisture-wicking properties. This helps prevent bacterial overgrowth in the vagina.
Although you cannot see vaginal pH, it has a huge impact on vaginal health. You should follow the simple steps described above to protect yourself from unpleasant conditions associated with an imbalance in the vaginal pH.