Ladies, we all know pH balance matters. However, do you know exactly how to keep a proper vaginal pH balance? The truth is, a lot of women don’t, and if that’s you, you’re in luck. We’re going to share five ways you can maintain a proper vaginal pH balance so you can avoid the things that happen when you don’t.
A Quick Debrief on Vaginal pH
While you probably discussed pH back in high school chemistry class, you may have forgotten a few things. Since we’re going to mention pH quite a bit here, it’ll be important to know what the term means. Therefore, when we say pH, we’re simply referring to how acidic or alkaline (basic) a water-based solution is. pH can range from 0 to 14, with a pH of less than 7 being acidic, and a pH of more than 7 being alkaline.
A normal vaginal pH is less than 4.5 during our reproductive years. However, if your pH level increases, your vagina will give you some hints to let you know that somethings off. The vagina may show symptoms like:
- A fishy odor
- Vaginal itching
- Painful intercourse
- Thin, gray, green, or white discharge
- Foamy discharge
- Pain and/or burning due urination
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s talk about how you can maintain a healthy, vaginal pH balance.
#1 Watch What You Eat
Did you know what you eat has an impact on how your vagina behaves? It’s true! If you follow a healthy and nutritious diet, not only will your gut thank you, but your vagina will too. However, if you tend to eat a lot of junk food, like sugar, your vagina just might let you know.
The frequent consumption of high sugar foods can change the pH of your vagina. Our vaginal secretions already contain sugar, which is like heaven to yeast. Yeast, like candida, thrives in sweet and moist environments like our vagina. Therefore, having too much sugar in your diet can cause an overgrowth of yeast and other infection-causing organisms, like a yeast infection.
While we’re not saying you have to ditch chocolates and candies altogether, try to eat nutritious, vagina-friendly foods to maintain your vaginal pH. Here are some examples below:
- Whole wheat products
#2 Water Is Your Friend
Many people might find this shocking, but up to 60% of the human body is water. We need water to regulate our internal body temperature, help our cells function, and even to maintain a healthy vagina. When we don’t drink enough water and end up dehydrated, it can take a toll on our vaginal health. The vaginal ecosystem needs water, and when there’s not enough, it throws off your pH level. Something as simple as not drinking enough water can lead to bacterial vaginosis and an increased risk of contracting STIs.
#3 Don’t Douche
While a lot of ladies completely swear by douching, most doctors don’t recommend it at all. Just in case you don’t know, douching is when women wash out the inside of their vagina with mixes of water and vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. Doctors don’t recommend it because it can alter the balance of your vaginal flora and the natural acidity in a healthy vagina. We need the proper balance of bacteria to maintain an acidic environment and to protect the vagina from infections and irritation.
The act of douching can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria too, which can cause bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. If you already have an infection, douching will only make things worse. The water-mix will push the infection into the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. Once the pelvic organs are infected, you’re at risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease. This serious condition can cause problems getting pregnant, problems during pregnancy, and long-term pelvic pain.
#4 Use a Condom During Sex
Semen is alkaline and can throw off the vaginal microbiome, so it might be worth it to use a condom, especially with a new partner. Sex with a new male partner introduces approximately 10 million bacteria per ml of semen if they ejaculate inside of you. Fortunately, condoms can help in not only preventing STIs but also keeping your vaginas environment content.
However, the type of condom matters too! Condoms with lubricant can also make the pH more alkaline and disrupt your microbiome. So, consider a non-lubricated one. If you’re in a long-term, monogamous relationship, you’ll be glad to know your vaginal microbiome will likely remain steady. You can also use a pH-balanced, feminine wipe after a night of fun (like the one’s offered by Lily Bird). That can help keep things running smoothly down there.
#5 Soap Doesn’t Belong There
If there’s one thing for certain, not all soaps are made for the vagina. In fact, our vagina doesn’t really even need soap because it cleans itself. However, if you want to use something, stay away from products that say “exfoliation” and steer clear of scented washes. Perfumed products can throw off your natural balance. The best products tend to be:
A Happy Vagina Has a Healthy Vaginal pH Balance
Keeping your vagina healthy shouldn’t be a mystery, and it shouldn’t be confusing. Topics about vaginal pH balance aren’t that easy to come by, and they certainly aren’t covered enough, but it’s essential to know. We hope these 5 tips on maintaining a healthy vaginal pH balance are helpful to you.
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By Jessica Thomas, MPH