As a female, your vagina is your most sensitive body organ. Therefore, it is normal to feel a little concerned about its health. You can have a personal cleaning routine to ensure it remains in excellent condition. But the vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism to maintain its health.
The vagina is naturally acidic to ensure it is not enabling any microbial growth. But its acidity is delicate and can get thrown off, leaving it exposed. Understanding why this might happen and how to avoid it is critical. That’s what this post will explore, so read it to the end.
Let’s get started with everything you need to know about vaginal pH.
What Is Vaginal pH?
Understanding what we mean by vaginal pH will help you get the rest of what we’ll discuss. It’ll be good to start by mentioning that pH measures how acidic or alkaline something is on a scale of 0-14. In this case, it’s all about the acidity or alkalinity of the vagina.
Usually, 7 gets considered a neutral pH, no matter what one measures. Any result below 7 shows something is acidic, and above 7 is basic or alkaline. Understanding this will help you know when your vaginal pH is normal and when it’s not. If abnormal, you’ll then take the proper steps to correct it.
Understanding Normal Vaginal pH, pH Imbalance, and Potential Complications
So, what’s considered a normal vaginal pH? Well, as said before, the human vagina should be a little acidic to get considered normal. This means the pH should fall below 7 when tested. And according to experts, normal vaginal pH ranges between 3.8 to 4.5 or at least below 5.
Anything above that means the vagina is less acidic. This will provide an enabling environment for microbial growth. You might end up with different kinds of infections. As a result, you might have a severe itching and inflammations that requires good vaginal itching relief medicines to be okay.
Of course, there are many more infections that you might get exposed to if your pH is unbalanced. For instance, you might develop herpes in the vagina. All these infections will put you through excruciating pain. Thus, it’s best to know how to ensure your pH always remains normal.
How Can I Test My Vaginal pH?
Testing is the best way to tell that your vaginal pH isn’t normal. But then, it’s good to clarify that you don’t have to test your vaginal pH levels regularly. As said, your vagina is a natural superstar. It can take care of itself and maintain normal pH if you don’t expose it.
So, how do you decide it’s time to conduct a vaginal pH test? One instance is when you are experiencing vaginal itching for an extended period. Or you might want to test it if you have a discharge or fishy smell. All these are signs of infections resulting from pH imbalance.
We will discuss how to avoid exposing your vagina to pH imbalance later. But it could help if we first looked into how you can test your vaginal pH if need be. Testing your vaginal pH is simple; you can do it at home using readily available over-the-counter test strips.
The test strip is a litmus paper, just like what’s used for chemistry experiments. You hold a clean test strip against the vaginal wall for a few seconds. If your vaginal pH is normal, your vaginal fluids will be acidic, changing the test strip color from blue to red.
Do not assume you have an infection if the test strip doesn’t change its color. There could be other reasons for it. Only a doctor can verify that you indeed have a vaginal infection. They can collect a swab and check for a bacterial or yeast infection under a microscope.
What Causes An Unbalanced Vaginal pH?
Your vaginal pH can change from normal to unbalanced for many reasons. Examples include:
- Unprotected sex – Semen is alkaline, meaning having unprotected sex can change your vaginal pH and expose you to infection.
- Menstrual periods – These too are alkaline and might interfere with your vaginal pH. This is because a pad or tampon stays in place after absorbing menstrual fluids.
- Antibiotics – Your vagina has good bacteria that help it clean itself and keep the harmful bacteria away. Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria when taken, which could lower pH.
- Douching – Many people wash their vaginas using water mixed with vinegar, iodine, or baking soda. This also interferes with pH levels and leads to infections; only use clean water.
Tips For Maintaining a Balance in Vaginal pH
We have already mentioned what causes pH imbalance. Thus it’s easy to know what you should do to maintain it at normal levels. Let’s list the tips for balancing vaginal pH.
- Avoid douching.
- Minimize antibiotic use and take probiotics.
- Use a condom when having sex.
- Only use clear lukewarm water to keep your vagina clean.
- Wear breathable and absorbent underwear made of cotton.
- Ensure you eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt.
- Switch to a menstrual cup to prevent drying out.
- Always clean your vagina after sexual intercourse.
Key Takeaway: Maintaining Normal Vaginal pH Is Critical
We believe you now understand what vaginal pH is and the normal vaginal pH. You also know what might lead to vaginal pH imbalance and the precautions you must take. The insights we’ve discussed will help you avoid exposure to pH imbalance and ensure good vaginal health.
In the end, you can avoid vaginal infections and complications. An example of what you can avoid is a vaginal yeast infection. Also, you can prevent more severe infections like genital herpes, which is common in women whose vaginal pH levels aren’t normal.
You can ensure good vaginal health using the tips shared in this post. You can also use it as a reference for any vaginal pH maintenance tips that might slip away through the cracks. It will remind you of what you need to do to restore your vaginal pH.