Understanding Your Vaginal pH Levels


Vaginal pH Levels

You probably remember doing experiments in chemistry using colored litmus paper. The pH spectrum ranged from acidic at zero, completely neutral in the middle at seven, and basic on the other end at 14. The same can be applied to your body. In a healthy body running at peak effectiveness, pH levels normally fall between 7.35 to 7.45. Your vagina, though, leans more on the acidic side, normally measuring between 3.8 to 4.5 and has its own microbiome containing “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. This acidity mainly comes from Lactobacilli—a completely necessary bacteria that releases hydrogen peroxide as well as lactic acid.

It relies on that acid to fight against “bad" bacteria, fungi, and anything else that might put the health of your vagina at risk.

So, what should your pH level be and what happens if it's out of whack? Well, it’s said that your levels should be between 3.8 to 4.5 and anything outside of this zone could be detrimental to the health of your vagina.

Common Causes of Abnormal Vaginal pH Levels


Whether it’s before the start of your period or after experiencing menopause, those who have a pH balance over 4.5 are outside normal levels. The less acidic your vagina is the less lactic acid there is living in your vagina to combat infection. On the other hand, more acid won’t necessarily cause the development of any kind of infection or condition, but it may affect your fertility. Women in their reproductive years who have a pH level below 3.8 are more likely to deal with issues getting pregnant. 

With that in mind, it's helpful to educate yourself on what may be going on. Below, find seven reasons why your vaginal pH may be fluctuating.

Menstruation


You may find your pH levels fluctuating during menstruation. Your period raises the alkaline in your vagina and can be affected by products like tampons that hold your blood for hours at a time.

Bacterial Vaginosis


This condition causes high levels of bacteria in your vagina, which can cause itching, burning, pain, odor, painful urination, and other issues. Though, depending on the severity, these symptoms may not be seen in some women. While not contagious, those who experience B.V., unfortunately, may see it come back around more than once.

Antibiotics


Though they are needed to clear up an infection, antibiotics also affect your balance while doing their job and can remove the “good” bacteria required for a healthy, acidic vagina.

Urinary Tract Infection


Elevated pH levels may make you more susceptible to a UTI, which can bring on some gnarly symptoms like abdominal pain, frequent bathroom visits, and a burning sensation when urinating.

Douching


Advertising and marketing make it seem like douching is a necessity for improved vaginal health. However, douching allows even more bacteria to grow and is warned against by most health professionals.

Estrogen


Reduced estrogen levels (especially in women with menopause) can result in the elevation of your pH levels, thus, making your vagina less acidic—just as it was during your puberty days.

Certain infections


Whether sexually transmitted or otherwise, a change in vaginal pH levels could be a sign that you have an infection.

How To Keep Things Running Smoothly


Your vagina is pretty damn amazing—not only is it a source of pleasure and life, but it also can self-maintain. Sometimes, though, things that seem insignificant can affect that, which is your vaginal pH balance is so important.

To keep your vagina healthy and happy: Don’t douche unless your doctor has specified otherwise, find cleansing products that won’t affect your natural balance, change your menstrual products often, take probiotics, and be sure to visit your OB/GYN regularly to treat any problem at the first sign of trouble.
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