What is Vaginal PH Balance?


PH? Sounds like chemistry to me *Insert shrug*.


PH describes the acidity or alkalinity of a specific substance. PH value is an assigned number on a scale of 1 to 14. Zero is considered the most acidic, while 14 is the most alkaline. A PH below 7 is acidic, while a PH above 7 is basic but if a substance is labeled as neutral, means it carries a pH level of 7.

The human body has a remarkable ability to maintain itself in the correct PH range, and that includes your vagina. In keeping a healthy vagina, maintaining proper PH is essentially important as an acidic vaginal environment is protective.

 

WHY BOTHER?

A normal vaginal PH level is between 3.8 and 4.5, which is moderately acidic. Bacteria such as Lactobacilli live in the vagina and secrete lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which give the vagina its acidic PH level. These beneficial microorganisms:

● Provide "numerical dominance" – they outnumber other potentially harmful bacteria that might enter the vagina.
● Help keep the vagina's PH balance (how acidic the vagina is) at an even level, which helps keep the balance of bacteria healthy.
● Can produce bacteriocins (naturally occurring antibiotics) to reduce or kill other bacteria entering the vagina.
● Produce a substance that stops invading bacteria from sticking to the vagina walls, which prevents bacteria from invading the tissues.
 

A high vaginal PH level (above 4.5) provides the perfect environment for unhealthy bacteria to grow. When the vaginal PH increases, the quality or amount of Lactobacilli can fall and other bacteria can multiply.

This puts you at risk of infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection which manifest in symptoms such as itching, irritation, foul odour and abnormal discharge.

 

WHAT CAUSES PH IMBALANCE?

Several situations, conditions and infections can cause a shift in the vaginal PH.

They include:

1. Douching: Douching refers to washing or cleaning the vagina using particular solutions, such as those containing vinegar or baking soda. These solutions claim to reduce vaginal odor, but in fact, they may worsen the smell.
This is because the good bacteria is also being washed out, thereby affecting the vaginal PH balance and can make a person prone to infections. Washing with clean water is all you need to keep your vagina healthy. It's normal for the vagina to have a scent.

      Still not convinced? Check out our previous gist on feminine washes and sprays.

 

2. Menstrual periodsWhen the period blood flows through the vagina and is absorbed into a tampon or pad and sits in place, it can raise the PH level of the vagina.
3. Menopause: Women tend to have higher PH levels during menopause. Menopausal women generally have an average vaginal pH of 5.3, meaning that “normal pH” can be relative depending on what stage of life you are in. Reduced estrogen levels during menopause may also affect a person’s vaginal PH.
4. Unprotected sex: Semen is basic(alkaline), which is the opposite of the vagina’s acidic environment. When semen enters the vagina, it may temporarily increase the PH level, making the normally acidic environment more alkaline to protect the sperm so they can make their way to the egg.

 

5. Antibiotics: People use antibiotics to kill harmful bacteria, but this medication can also kill good beneficial bacteria as well. This includes the good bacteria you need to maintain a healthy, more acidic vaginal PH level. If a person regularly takes antibiotics, their vaginal PH may be out of balance.

 

6. Urinary Tract Infections(UTIs): UTIs do not necessarily cause a higher vaginal PH, but having a high PH can increase a person’s risk of developing a UTI. Reduced estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause can put a person at risk of developing more frequent UTIs, as lower estrogen allows the vaginal PH to rise. Doctors may prescribe estrogen treatments to lower the vaginal PH and also to prevent further UTIs.

 

7. Bacterial Vaginosis(BV): This is a medical condition of bacterial overgrowth in the vagina that causes “fishy odor”, along with an unusual grey, white, or yellow vaginal discharge. This can cause an increase in vaginal PH levels.
A person with bacterial vaginosis may experience itching, burning, or pain in the vagina. It may also come with painful urination accompanied by a burning sensation. In some instances, women diagnosed with BV display none of the typical warning signs of this infection. 

BV isn’t necessarily harmful in itself, but women who have this condition are at increased risk for more serious infections like human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus, and HIV. Recent studies have also connected BV to a higher incidence of infection in the uterus and fallopian tubes which produces scarring and possible infertility.

Other infections such as Candida (a yeast), Trichomonas vaginalis and group B Streptococcus (GBS) may also increase the vagina’s PH.

Factors such as age, dehydration, diet, obesity, stress, drugs, hormonal levels, lubricants and spermicidal creams, too much moisture /heat from workout clothes, bathing suits, tight pants and underwear may also increase the vagina’s PH.

 

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR PH IS IMBALANCED

Symptoms of a PH imbalance include:

Itching
Redness
Burning, including during sex or urination
Unusual vaginal discharge (watery, foamy, or chunky, grey, yellow or unusually white)
Unpleasant vaginal odor (fishy or foul)

There is no need to check for vaginal PH as a routine but if you experience any of these symptoms, there are vaginal PH test kits that you can buy at a pharmacy to check yours in only a few seconds using a special strip (NOTE: Hey Oremi will be releasing our own Vaginal PH kit soon, so stay tuned). A home vaginal PH test kit generally includes a piece of PH test paper and a color chart for determining your vaginal pH results. The test is performed by placing a test paper against the wall of your vagina and comparing the color change against the reference chart.


H
ow to Perform a Vaginal PH Swab

 

1. Wash your hands.
2. Remove the PH swab from the package by its handle. Do not allow the PH paper to come into contact with anything.
3. Hold the swab handle between your thumb and forefinger so that the test strip is facing your thumb.
4. Spread your labia with your free hand.
5. Insert the swab into your vagina, tilting it so that the paper comes fully in contact with the vaginal wall.
6. Hold for 5 seconds.
7. Remove the swab, being careful not to touch the paper.

INTERPRETING RESULTS

 

If your PH test kit comes with a color reference chart, compare the color of the strip to obtain the PH value. Other tests will only read "normal" (white) or "abnormal" (blue/green).
For color reference kits, vaginal acidity/alkalinity is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. Normal vaginal PH is 3.8 to 4.5 (slightly acidic). Abnormal values are those that are higher or lower than this range. Higher ranges are more alkaline while lower ranges are more acidic.

Abnormal vaginal PH frequently indicates the presence of a vaginal infection but do not necessarily indicate an infection. This can only be confirmed by a doctor through physical examination, microscopic observation of discharge, and perhaps a swab collection of bacterial or yeast samples. 

If you test positive for high vaginal PH, please make an appointment with your doctor for further evaluation. Alternatively, if you test negative for high vaginal pH, but symptoms persist, a vaginal infection may in fact be present. However, you should know that not all vaginal infections cause changes to vaginal pH. This means that having a normal vaginal pH test does not necessarily mean that you do not have a vaginal infection. Confirm the results with your doctor’s diagnosis.

How to Maintain a Healthy Vaginal PH

Vaginne refreshing intimate gel is specifically designed to restore and preserve feminine intimate health in a safe and stress-free manner. It is a 6-day treatment that relieves the symptoms of infection and in just 3 days, you can start to see a difference.

Vaginne enables every woman to experience natural cleanliness and comfort in their most intimate parts. Vaginne keeps you fresh all day, flaunting that natural fragrance from inside out hereby boosting your self-esteem and confidence.

Some benefits Of Using  Vaginne

It enhances the friendly bacteria(Lactobacillus) and inhibits bad bacteria. It is through this process that it eliminates common symptoms of vaginal infections such as bad odour, itching, discharge, hereby providing comfort.
It boosts the immunity and self-healing power of the vagina and uterus.
It helps manage menopausal symptoms.
Vaginne offers long-lasting protection and repair to damaged tissues in the vagina, cervix, and uterus.
It clears and cleans blocked Fallopian tubes 
It helps fix irregular menstruation 

 

  • Take over-the-counter probiotic supplements

One way the female body controls vaginal PH is with probiotics. Probiotics have a prophylactic effect — deterring harmful organisms and keeping your vaginal ecosystem healthy. Look for probiotics that help regulate the vagina's PH.

If you're not sure which supplement to pick, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Eat probiotic-rich foods

Cultured yogurt is found to contain beneficial bacteria that are similar to those found in probiotic supplements. Other probiotic-rich products include garri, kefir, chia seeds, kimchi, mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese. 

  • Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Wait! Wait! Wait! I know I called ACV a bad boy when I spoke of douching but… who said it’s totally harmful to you?

Lab research shows that ACV is effective against several infectious microbes. While it can deter Candida, a major culprit behind fungal infections that upset the vaginal PH, ACV was actually found to be more effective against other harmful organisms such as E. coli that disturbs the alimentary tract.

No douching. Repeat after me “no douching!”. You can infuse ACV into your healthcare by taking ACV gummies or drinking a half cup ACV diluted with 2 parts water once in a while.

 

Check this… come closer, I have a secret to share:

You can use it to cook your meals! That way, we have the benefits intact.

Organic raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) has antibacterial properties, which allows it to deter bad microbes that can interfere with normal vaginal PH. ACV also contains probiotics that promote the growth of healthy microbes. 

  • Always practice safe sex

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, genital warts, hepatitis, and HIV are transmitted through blood and bodily fluids during unprotected sex. It’s crucial to use a condom every time you engage in sexual activity. 

 

  • Eliminate Feminine Hygiene Cleaning Products

Be wary of feminine hygiene products that are scented or claim to clean your pelvic area. Run sis! It is very important that you don't douche or otherwise "deep clean" the vagina, whether with baking soda, vinegar, or anything else.

Douching, wipes, and sprays not only introduce chemicals down there, but they can also interfere with your natural vaginal PH and health. Your body cleans itself naturally when you maintain good health, and the vagina is no exception.

 

  • Only use 100% Organic Cotton Menstrual Underwear and Products

Synthetic tampons can throw off the balance of good and bad bacteria! While the vaginal ecosystem is very resilient, synthetic-fiber tampons can cause concerns. More absorbent than cotton, synthetic fibers can concentrate toxins more and throw off the balance of good and bad bacteria, which could contribute to an imbalanced PH. Experts recommend that you use 100 percent cotton tampons and pads for the best vaginal and overall health. Remember that leaving a tampon in or a pad on for too long can increase the vaginal PH. Changing tampons and pads frequently also reduces the risk of bacterial infections, including toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

 

  • See the gynecologist regularly

Any woman of childbearing age who is sexually active should get annual gynecological exams, which include cervical screening and a Pap test. Routine screenings can find abnormalities in your vagina which can then be taken care of on time. Early diagnosis and treatment of cervical, ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer can stack the odds in the patient’s favor. 

  • Maintain good hygiene

Follow these simple steps to ensure a healthy vaginal PH:

Remember to use only clean water to cleanse the vagina.
After urinating or bowel movement, always wipe from front to back (or rinse with warm water) to prevent the spread of unwanted bacteria. 
Do not shave your entire pubic area, which leads to irritation and increases your chances for infection. 
Never apply hair removal creams in your pubic area.

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