Intimate Talk: The What, Why, And How of Vaginal pH And Its Importance
We often hear about vaginal pH and how we should use feminine care products that promote its balance. Is it a legitimate vaginal health concept or just a marketing hype? In this article, we get more intimate and personal with our feminine health because vaginal condition concerns women’s reproductive health, hygiene, confidence, relationships, and the general wellness of her womanhood.
Vaginal pH: What Is It?
In chemistry, pH means the potential of hydrogen or the quantitative measure of a substance’s acidity and alkalinity level. The vagina’s microbiome environment is moderately acidic due to the good bacteria that exist there. These microbes and normal vaginal secretions are vital for the vagina’s self-cleaning ability. When this condition is thrown out of balance, bad bacteria overgrowth happens and causes vaginal infections.
Between 3.8 and 5 is considered normal vaginal pH level. The pH increases a bit over 4.5 after your monthly period and after menopause.
As in other parts of the body like the gut, insufficient good bacteria creates a less acidic environment that lets bad bacteria thrive. This disruption can cause various health issues. This is also true with your vagina. It is therefore important to keep a healthy pH level in your intimate parts as it keeps its microbial ecosystem working just right.
Symptoms of an Unbalanced Vaginal pH
How do you know when your vagina’s pH is off? When there are signs of infections, bad bacteria are dominant.
These signs include:
- Fishy vaginal discharge
- Itchiness and irritation of the vulva
- Burning sensation
- Redness and swelling
- Discomfort while urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Common vaginal infections include Candida Vaginitis, Trichomoniasis, And Bacterial BV. These vaginitis or vaginal infections are caused by fungi, protozoa, and bacteria respectively.
Some of the signs listed above may also be indications of other vaginal conditions like allergy or trauma, but a medical examination by a gynecologist can confirm if it’s a case of vaginal infection.
What Causes an Unbalanced Vaginal pH?
Here’s a look at the several factors that can tip the vagina’s equilibrium.
Semen is alkaline with a pH measure of 7.1 to 8.0. During penetrative sex, semen can affect the acidity of the vagina’s environment, causing an unbalanced pH level. Using condoms can minimize the risk and protect the vagina’s pH.
Oil Based Products
Many oil based products used in and around the vaginal area can potentially change the pH level of the vagina. For example, coconut oil has a high pH which makes it alkaline whereas the pH of the vagina is acidic. Coconut oil is a popular addition to skincare products and is a popular sex lubricant choice. Using oil based products on the vagina often can potentially cause an unbalanced pH, so if you are prone to yeast infections you should pay attention to ingredients in your intimate skincare products. We formulated Honor Everyday Balm with vaginal pH at the forefront so it is completely safe to use as often as you’d like!
Though antibiotics are prescribed to treat vaginal infections by killing bad bacteria, some good bacteria could be collateral damage in the process. This is why antibiotics must be taken only when prescribed by a specialist. It is important to determine the severity of the imbalance and assess whether the medication would do more good than harm to the patient. Taking broad-spectrum antibiotics to treat other illnesses may increase the risk of vaginitis.
As mentioned, the vagina can self-cleanse through its normal discharge. Using vaginal wash products that contain harmful ingredients like fragrance and other chemicals can result in less than ideal vaginal pH balance.
So if you’ve been wondering how to balance vaginal pH, it is recommended to use clean water and intimate care products specifically formulated to protect the vagina’s natural pH.
Increased estrogen levels during pregnancy may disrupt a woman’s vaginal pH and cause imbalance. Like hormonal changes during the premenarchal and postmenopausal periods, pregnancy can alter the vagina’s flora.
Menstrual blood is moderately alkaline, and the absorbed blood in the pad or tampon may raise the vagina’s alkalinity level causing an imbalance.
Stress can impair the body’s immune function, making it susceptible to infection. The stress hormone cortisol may also raise glucose levels in the body, affecting its immune ability to respond to infections.
Uncontrolled glycemia in the body can increase the risk of vaginal yeast infection. Increased glucose levels in the body can also weaken its immune response and cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria. If you’ve been struggling with infections and are wondering how to keep vaginal pH balanced, focus on making health and lifestyle-related changes that promote natural pH balance.
How to Maintain a Healthy Vaginal pH
Here are some of the things you can do to keep your vagina in the pink of health:
Wash the vagina only with water and mild soap or cleansers. Clean the areas between and around the labia majora and minora. Do not use any product inside the vagina. Dry it off using clean, unbleached tissue. Avoid using sprays, vaginal deodorants, or creams with harsh ingredients.
Keep the vaginal area cool and dry. Use loose, light, and airy underwear and outerwear to avoid trapping moisture. Cotton fabric panties or boxers help keep your intimate area fresh and cool.
Change to dry clothes immediately after swimming or working out. Damp vagina is a breeding ground for bad bacteria, so make sure to keep wetness at bay.
Avoid using pads or panty liners every day. Use them only during your menstrual period or days leading to it to deal with heavier-than-usual discharge.
Change menstrual pads frequently. Do not wear sanitary pads longer than recommended, as menstrual blood can impair your vagina’s pH level. Good menstrual hygiene practices are good for your feminine health.
Use condoms during sexual intercourse. Make sure to change condoms for each penetration done in various parts like vaginal, anal, and oral to prevent the transfer of harmful microbes to your vagina. Wash or wipe your vagina before and after sex to inhibit harmful microbes’ spread and overgrowth in your vagina.
Keep your body clean. Shower or bathe regularly and wear clean clothes all the time. Wash away sweat, dirt, and grime to keep bacteria off your body. Use mild soap and body cleansers.
Do not self-medicate. If you have symptoms of a vaginal infection, proper diagnosis of the microbial cause is important so a specialist can administer the right treatment and zero in on the specific root of the problem. Self-diagnosing and Improper treatment can only prolong and worsen your condition, leading to other health problems and complications like pelvic inflammatory disease, HPV, infertility, or cervical cancer.
Eat a healthy diet and get enough rest. A healthy lifestyle and eating habits can boost your immune system to fight infection and stress-induced hormonal imbalance.
Win Your Feminine Fight
Remember, you can win against the attacks of bad bacteria in your ‘territory’ by arming yourself with the right knowledge, habits, care products, nutrients, and a lifestyle that celebrates, protects, and nurtures your femininity. Rosebud Woman intimate care products can help keep your vaginal pH balanced so your physical health and personal life can bloom!