The vagina’s pH balance is a very delicate matter! pH balance refers to the level of acids and bases in your blood that your body functions at most optimally. When pH is in balance, this staves off bacterial and functional infections; when it is not, bad bacteria thrives and causes odor, irritation and uncomfortable infections like bacterial vaginosis.
pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. The median is 7—less than 7 on the pH scales is acidic, and 7 is alkaline. A normal vaginal pH is between 3.8 and 4.5 during the reproductive years (ages 15 to 49), but this can change outside of those years. A healthy pH level may be closer to 4.5 before puberty and post-menopause.
pH balance plays a critical role in vaginal health. When you experience symptoms like burning, itching, redness or other forms of irritation, this is your body letting you know that your pH may be off. It’s important to avoid a high vaginal pH level because it creates an ideal environment for unhealthy bacteria to breed. This can lead to odor, painful sex and discomfort in the form of bacterial infections. High pH levels also increase the risk of contracting STIs, infertility, pre-term births, pelvic inflammatory disease and post-hysterectomy infection.
Your vagina is magical—it’s self-cleaning and can usually maintain balance without your help. However, there are many things that can disrupt your delicate pH balance. Below are just a few of the most common risk factors:
Menstrual blood has a pH of 7.4. When you use products like tampons and pads that absorb menstrual blood, this can cause pH to fluctuate and encourage bacterial growth.
Semen has a pH between 7.1 to 8.
Everything from pain medication to antibiotics can upset the balance of good bacteria in your body.
Anything from oral or internal contraceptives to hormonal replacement therapy affects pH.
The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy often cause a high pH that leads to vaginal infections.
Bacteria and yeast thrive in warm, wet environments like sweaty workout clothes and wet swimsuits. Always change out of wet clothes as soon as possible.
See a physician if you’re experiencing an infection, pain or other discomfort. In the meantime, here are a few things you can to do helping maintain your vagina’s pH balance.
Avoid processed foods, refined sugars and simple carbs as these they can alter your pH. Strive to consume whole, fresh foods as much as possible. Eat food with natural antifungal properties like yogurt and garlic as they can help fight bad bacteria in your body.
Only use products without harsh chemicals that disrupt the pH balance. Your best bet is to use safe, gentle products made with naturally occurring enzymes to safely balance pH balance and provide hydration.
Barrier protection can help semen and other bacteria from disrupting the vagina with its high pH level that can be anywhere from 7.1 to 8.
Only use a safe product like Luvena Hydrating Vaginal Rinse for douching. This pH balanced rinse is formulated with lactic acid and natural enzymes to gently cleanse, soothe and hydrate while controlling odor. Unlike other douches, Luvena Hydrating Vaginal Rinse contains no parabens, vinegar, boric acid or harsh chemicals that can upset the pH balance.
Change tampons and pads a minimum of every four hours. You may want to try alternative feminine products such as menstrual discs or cups.
Click here for more information on Luvena’s safe yet effective range of feminine care products.