- 6 Signs There Might Be Something Wrong With Your Body’s pH Levels
- 1. Low Energy
- 2. Weakened Bones
- 3. Indigestion
- 4. Insomnia
- 5. Poor Dental Health
- 6. High Stress
- How Does Your pH Get Unbalanced?
- How Do You Know If Your Ph Balance Is Off?
- How Do You Restore a Healthy pH Balance?
- Want to Know More About Maintaining Vaginal Health?
- What Does pH Balancing Your Face Mean and Should You Care?
- Keeping your vagina clean and healthy – Sexual health
- Washing your vagina
- Vulvar Care
- Top 12 vaginal hygiene tips every woman should know
- What Disrupts Vaginal PH Balance & What You Can Do About It
- pH Balance & Vaginal Health
- What is pH level? A pH level is a measurement of how acidic or alkaline a substance is. It is measured on a scale of 0-14. The median is 7 and anything below that is acidic (the lower the number the more acidic it is), and anything above it is considered alkaline or basic.
- What does it have to do with your vagina? Your vagina’s health can be determined by its pH level. A normal level is between 3.8-4.5, but that can change with time and age. The reason your pH level matters is because when it’s over 4.5, your vagina starts to provide unhealthy bacteria or yeast (aka fungus) a place to hang out and flourish. Then, vaginal odor, discomfort, infections can start to creep in.
- How normal is a fluctuating pH level? It depends. Your vagina is a self-cleaning superhero. Generally speaking, it will balance itself out without your help. But there are certain things can aggravate it and make it easier to become off-balance causing abnormal pH fluctuations.
- Things that can affect your vaginal pH balance include but aren’t limited to:
- Antibiotics. Taking antibiotics for something, they can actually work to remove the good bacteria in your vagina that help keep things working smoothly. Consuming foods rich in probiotics like yogurt and taking Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements may help prevent these infections while taking antibiotics.
- Your period. When you menstruate, your pH levels fluctuate. Menstrual hygiene products that absorb rather than collect menses such as tampons (which holds blood inside your vagina for longer than your body intended) tend to disrupt your vaginal pH and encourages bacterial or yeast growth. That’s why you must change tampons every 4 hours or choose alternative period products like a menstrual cup or menstrual disc which doesn’t affect your vagina’s delicate pH balance. Wearing breathable fabrics like cotton can also help because it will not hold moisture or heat.
- Wet clothing. Bacteria and yeast thrive in warm, wet environments which is awesome for bread making but detrimental for maintaining a healthy vaginal pH. Wet bathing suits and sweaty gym gear can become the perfect playground for bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. So try to change out of wet clothes ASAP to avoid
- Douching or deodorizing. Like we mentioned before, your vagina is a smartie. It can self-clean and doesn’t need to be douched, cleansed with scented or deodorizing soaps, or sterilized with anything. Rinsing with water should be enough, but if you insist on washing up, choose unscented mild soaps that are diluted with water before applying it to your vagina.
- Semen. Penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex can result in some nasty infections because the pH levels of semen are higher than the pH levels of vaginas, which can mess with the growth of healthy bacteria or “vaginal flora.”
- Pregnancy. Vaginal infections are common during pregnancy, thanks in part to hormonal changes that alter your vagina’s pH-balance. If something feels off, check in with your health provider.
- When Should You Talk To Your Health Provider?
- If you experience any of the symptoms below, it’s a good indicator that you vaginal pH is off balance. Give your doctor or health provider a ring to figure out what’s going on if you’re suffering from:
- Inflammation or swelling
- Abnormal odor (fishy, cheesy)
- Unusual discharge (greenish, chunky,)
- General discomfort
- Pain with sex
- For now, you’ve got an A+. See you next class when we dive deeper into how your menstrual hygiene products could be adversely affecting your pH levels.
- pH Balance & Vaginal Health
- 8 Rules for a Healthy Vagina
- Maintain a Healthy Diet for Vaginal Health
- Practice Safe Sex to Keep Harmful Germs Away
- See Your Gynecologist — or Primary Care Doctor — for Preventive Care
- Treat Infections When They Arise
- Use Enough Lubricant, but Not Petroleum Jelly
- Choose Clothing Carefully to Stay Dry
- Follow Good Hygiene
- pH Balance and Health
- 8 Home Remedies For Vaginal Itch & Rebalancing Your pH
- What Can Unbalance My Vagina?
- 4. Garlic
- 8. Evaluate Your Sugar Consumption
- The Bottom Line
- What Happens When your Vaginal pH Balance is off?
- What does a woman’s pH level mean?
- What causes vaginal pH balance to be off?
- What everyday things cause pH imbalance?
- What happens when your pH balance is off?
- Why do I smell down there even after a shower?
- How do I test my pH level?
- How do I fix my pH balance?
6 Signs There Might Be Something Wrong With Your Body’s pH Levels
When your body is balanced hormonally and pH wise, everything will seem to just click. Your digestion, energy, and mood will more likely be positive and efficient. However, when your body’s pH levels are unbalanced, meaning your body isn’t in an optimal state, you might feel a bit off. Keeping your body in a happy state can boost performance and productivity in the day, and it’ll be better for your health and happiness, long-term.
“When looking at the human body, the pH, otherwise known as the power of hydrogen, is how we measure the hydrogen ion concentration in the body — this tells us how alkaline and acidic the solutions are in our body,” Michelle Schnider, an integrative nutrition coach with 1MD, tells Bustle. “For the body to thrive, remain in balance, and avoid health problems, the ideal pH is 6.5 – 7.5, just slightly alkaline. “
As a certified health coach, I definitely notice when my own personal pH is off, which can happen when I’m not eating well, am stressed out, or are not digesting things properly. Therefore, I strive to eat foods that are less acidic and more alkaline. I also try to get in exercise and relaxation techniques to banish stress, not to mention boost digestion and immunity. It’s suggested that an overly acidic pH can be harmful on bone health, nutrient retention, and cell reparation, and one study published in 2012 found that there may be “some value” in adopting an alkaline diet to lower the risk of death from chronic disease. Still, while more research is needed on these health effects, a diet that is more alkaline is also higher in whole, nutritionally dense foods, which has strong effects on our overall health.
Here are 6 signs that your body’s pH levels may be off.
1. Low Energy
If you’re feeling fatigued out of nowhere, excessive acidity might be to blame, says Schnider. This is because “being in an acidic state like this will make it difficult for the body to absorb minerals and other nutrients,” Schnider says, and those minerals and nutrients are what our body uses to create energy. If you’re feeling extra fatigued, look for more nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to up your nutrient balance.
2. Weakened Bones
If you’re more prone to injuries and falls, it could signify an imbalance in pH levels. Schnider explains that when our bodies are too acidic, they will try to compensate by leeching alkalizing minerals like calcium and magnesium from our bones, leaving them weaker, though one 2018 study found that this was only a slight effect. Try supplementing your diet with calcium to prevent osteopenia or osteoporosis, which are both bone density disorders.
If you’re consuming too much acid in your diet, you might find yourself getting an upset stomach more often than you’d like, says Schnider. Seemingly healthy foods like tomatoes, citrus, garlic and onions, or other foods that are high in acid can trigger acid reflux or other gastrointestinal distress. Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your chances of an upset stomach.
According to James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, over interview with Medical News Today, when pH levels are imbalanced, and the body is more acidic, you’re more likely to experience sleep impairments and insomnia due to a lack of vital nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium.
5. Poor Dental Health
According to a 2015 study in the International Journal of Chemical Engineering and Applications, poor dental health and enamel degradation can be a sign that there’s too much acidity in the body and that pH levels are out of whack. If you’re getting cavities or have trouble eating super hot or cold foods without experiencing pain, it could be a sign that you’re exposed to too much acid. Try to avoid sodas or fruit juices that are overly acidic to protect your teeth.
6. High Stress
We definitely know to avoid stress as much as possible, but sometimes it creeps up on us. “Stress puts much pressure on your body and your life, making it difficult to function effectively as a whole,” Schnider says. “Stress can affect your pH balances as much as a poor diet,” says True Citrus spokesperson and trainer Kim Lyons. If you’re feeling too stressed, it can hurt your health and hormonal balance. There are so many effects of stress on the body that can lead to health issues if left unaddressed, but techniques like mindfulness meditation and exercise are proven to reduce stress.
If you notice any of these issues in your body, it could mean your pH levels are off. Having an imbalance can lead to worsened health and wellbeing, so it’s best to be cautious and work to eat nutritionally dense foods, exercise, sleep, and take care of yourself accordingly.
This post was originally published on January 10, 2017. It was updated on June 26, 2019.
How do you know if your pH balance is off? Maybe there’s an itch or an odd smell you aren’t used to. Here are the signs and some treatments to restore harmony.
Vaginal discomfort can affect your entire mood. It can leave you feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable, especially if you don’t know the reason why things feel off.
If there’s an odd smell or an itchy sensation you haven’t felt before, your pH could be to blame. A healthy vaginal pH is between 3.5 and 4.5. If yours is outside that range, it could explain some of the discomfort you’re feeling.
But how do you know if your pH balance is off? And how can you get it back to a healthy range?
In this post, we’ll answer these questions so you can restore harmony and start feeling like yourself again. Read on!
How Does Your pH Get Unbalanced?
If you’re wondering, “How do you know if your pH balance is off?” you may also wonder how it gets unbalanced in the first place. While it sometimes happens without any underlying cause, there are a few things that can affect your vaginal pH.
Overall health is an important factor, so you should try to maintain as many healthy habits as possible. Hydrating regularly, eating a well-rounded diet, and practicing safe sex are great ways to prevent your vaginal pH from getting off-balance.
You should also avoid using harsh soaps in your vaginal area. Opt for gentle wipes or a specially-formulated feminine hygiene wash instead. You may want to consider switching to an organic, chemical-free menstrual products, such as Genial Day menstrual pads and period panties (we might be a little biased about that).
How Do You Know If Your Ph Balance Is Off?
The two main symptoms of an off-balance vaginal pH are smell and discharge.
An unpleasant odor and excessive discharge could be signs of bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, or yeast infections. All three of these diseases are commonly associated with unhealthy vaginal pH levels.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should visit your doctor right away. A simple test will reveal the cause of your discomfort so you can begin treating the condition.
How Do You Restore a Healthy pH Balance?
If you have a vaginal infection, your doctor may want to prescribe a course of antibiotics.
Of course, you should always follow your doctor’s recommendations. There are also a few home remedies that can help to restore your vaginal region to a healthy pH.
Try incorporating specific foods like apple cider vinegar, yogurt, and garlic into your diet. These can help you get your pH back within the healthy range if it’s too basic. If it’s too acidic, cutting sugar out of your diet can help.
It also helps to use products that are designed specifically for women’s health. These are intended to help keep your pH in balance.
Want to Know More About Maintaining Vaginal Health?
Having a balanced vaginal pH is important for every woman. Not only can it make a significant difference in your mood and confidence, but it can impact your overall health.
Avoiding harsh products is a great way to help keep your ph in balance. You should also be able to identify symptoms of an unbalanced pH so you can take action if you notice something is off.
For more information on how you can practice vaginal health, visit our blog and make sure you like our Facebook page for useful information, sales, contests and more.
What Does pH Balancing Your Face Mean and Should You Care?
Most men have never given much thought to pH levels beyond having to do some acidity lab tests in their High School’s chemistry class. pH levels however, are incredibly important for your skin. Your body naturally maintains your face’s pH balance, but when it gets out of whack, you’ll get inflammation, acne, wrinkles and other less than pleasant side effects. Learn more what pH balancing your face means, why you should care, and what to do about it (easily).
Your skin has a thin protective layer called the acid mantle. The acid mantle is made up of acids, namely – amino, lactic and fatty, that mix with the natural essential oils your sebaceous glands excrete. This cocktail of acids creates a protective barrier that is the first line of defense against bacteria and environment toxins. In other words, your skin needs to be a little acidic to destroy all the things you don’t want growing on your face. It also means you need your skin to be slightly oily so it doesn’t dry out and become irritated or get premature wrinkles.
If you remember from chemistry class, all organic substances (which include you) have a pH level. The range goes from acidic to neutral to basic. Your body has a pH level of 7 but your face is about a 5.5 (more acidic). The funny thing is, most men’s skin care and grooming products carry a pH level of 8 – 10. This means they’re highly drying to the skin. As mentioned above, your skin needs that acidic barrier to stay healthy. Too alkaline and skin gets dry and ages prematurely, while too acidic creates an environment prone to breakouts and acne.
So how do you have a proper men’s skin care regimen and now disrupt your skin’s pH balance? Use natural men’s skin care and grooming products. Men’s skin care products filled with chemicals strip the skin of the essential oils and acidic barrier it needs, making it too alkaline. Even guys with very oily skin run the risk of skin problems by over drying their face.
A natural face wash for men won’t strip the essential oils and acidic barrier on your face, leaving it clean, yet still protected. After using a men’s natural face wash, apply a natural face moisturizer for men as well. This will restore any lost hydration needed back onto the skin to normalize the pH level.
The next time you go to buy a generic men’s skin care product, think to yourself, do you want to destroy the natural barrier your body has created or do you want to have healthy skin?
Keeping your vagina clean and healthy
Washing your vagina
It’s a good idea to avoid perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics as these can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina and cause irritation.
Use plain, unperfumed soaps to wash the area around the vagina (the vulva) gently every day.
The vagina will clean itself inside your body with natural vaginal secretions (discharge).
“During your period, washing more than once a day may be helpful,” says Dr Elneil, who points out that keeping the perineal area between the vagina and anus clean is important, too.
“Good perineal hygiene is necessary by washing that area at least once a day using your normal bathing routines.”
“All women are different,” says Professor Lamont. “Some may wash with perfumed soap and not notice any problems.
“But if a woman has vulval irritation or symptoms, one of the first things you can do is use non-allergenic, plain soaps to see if that helps.”
A douche flushes water up into the vagina, clearing out vaginal secretions. Some women use a douche to “clean” the vagina.
But using a douche can disrupt the normal vaginal bacteria, so it isn’t recommended that you use one.
“I can’t think of any circumstances where douches are helpful, because all they do is wash out everything that’s in the vagina, including all the healthy bacteria,” explains Professor Lamont.
There’s no evidence that douching protects against STIs or vaginal infections, and it may even increase the risk.
Scented wipes and vaginal deodorants
These perfumed products can disrupt the vagina’s healthy natural balance.
“If nature had intended the vagina to smell like roses or lavender, it would have made the vagina smell like roses or lavender,” says Professor Lamont.
Washing with water and a plain soap should be all you need to keep your vagina healthy. It’s normal for the vagina to have a scent.
“Vaginal odour can change at different times of the reproductive cycle and shouldn’t always be thought of as being a sign of infection or illness,” says Dr Elneil.
If you’re worried about the way your vagina smells, the smell is unpleasant or you’re using perfumed products to cover up your vagina’s smell, you should see your GP. You might have an infection that needs treatment.
The most common cause of unusual vaginal discharge is bacterial vaginosis, which can cause an unpleasant smell. It’s easily treated with antibiotics, so see your GP if you’re worried.
Find out more about symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, symptoms of thrush, and symptoms that could signal a sexually transmitted infection.
Why is vulvar and vagina care important?
Many women experience uncomfortable, vaginal infections (vaginitis) at one time or another. The area around the entrance to the vagina (vulva) can also become irritated. Steps can be taken to relieve and prevent vulvar discomfort and vaginal infections.
Not all vaginal infections are alike and home treatments can worsen some types. If you have any concerns about your vulvar or vaginal health, or notice unusual changes in vaginal discharge, contact your healthcare provider if the problem persists.
What is the vulva?
The vulva is the area of female sex organs that lies outside of the vagina. These organs include folds of sensitive tissue called the labia (labia means “lips”). The labia has two parts. The outermost folds are called the labia majora. A second set of folds, called the labia minora, is enclosed within the labia majora. The vulva also contains the mounded area made by the pubic bone (mons pubis), a small, round organ (clitoris), and the openings of the vagina and urinary canal (urethra).
What is the vagina?
The vagina is part of the female genitalia. It starts from the opening, called the introitus or inner part of the labia, and ends at the opening of the uterus called the cervix.
Why do vaginal infections happen?
Vaginal infections occur when bacteria, funguses or other organisms grow uncontrolled. Some of these organisms already live in the vagina and are kept at healthy levels by coexisting with other organisms. Infectious organisms can also be introduced into the vagina by improper hygiene or unsafe sex.
What is vulvar care?
The goal of vulvar care is to keep the vulva dry and free from irritants. In this way, you can prevent the vulva from becoming red, swollen and irritated. Because many infections are introduced into the vagina, these tips also provide a basis for good, vaginal care.
What are some tips for vulvar care?
- Use warm water to wash the vulva. Dry thoroughly with a clean towel. (If the vulva is very irritated, you can try drying it with a blow dryer set on cool.)
- The vagina cleanses itself naturally in the form of normal, vaginal discharge. Avoid using douches unless prescribed by your physician. These products can upset the natural balance of organisms.
- Wear only white, 100 percent cotton underwear. Avoid wearing nylon, acetate, or other manmade fibers if you have delicate skin or are prone to vulvar irritation.
- Avoid wearing thongs.
- Rinse underclothes carefully after washing or double-rinse. Avoid using too much laundry detergent.
- Wash new underclothes before wearing.
- Use a mild soap (such as Woolite®) for washing underclothes. Avoid fabric softeners (including dryer sheets) and detergents with enzymes (amylase, lipase, protease and cellulose).
- Use soft toilet tissue (white only).
- Use tampons instead of sanitary napkins to control menstrual bleeding. (Do not use deodorant tampons.) Do not leave tampons in for a long period, due to toxic shock syndrome. Do not leave tampons in all night.
- Take sitz baths daily, if prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Don’t scratch.
- Avoid wearing nylon pantyhose or panty girdles. They trap heat and moisture, providing an ideal breeding environment for organisms. When nylons or leggings are required, wear cotton or nylons with a cotton panty.
- Avoid these feminine hygiene products, which can irritate the vulva: sanitary pads, feminine spray and deodorants, scented oils, bubble baths, bath oils, talc or powder.
What over-the-counter products can be used for vaginal lubrication?
Vaginal moisturizers can be used for dryness, if needed. These can be water- or silicon-based products:
- Replens® (Warner Wellcome) – Using applicator, apply three times a week at bedtime to maintain normal vaginal moisture.
- Gyne-Moistrin® (Schering-Plough)
- Crisco vegetable shortening
For use during intercourse (vaginal lubricants):
- Astroglide® (Astro-Lube, Inc.)
- Lubrin® Vaginal Suppository (Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc.) – Developed for postmenopausal women
- Condom-Mate® Vaginal Suppository (Upsher-Smith)— Developed for use with condoms; same as Lubrin®, but smaller.
- Today® Personal Lubricant (Made by manufacturers of the Today® Sponge)
- K-Y Liquid® (Johnson and Johnson)
Emollients (products like Petroleum jelly) should be used in patients with vulvar irritation sparingly. It is not recommended to insert emollients vaginally.
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Top 12 vaginal hygiene tips every woman should know
Just like menstruation, vaginal hygiene is a taboo subject in India. Many women till date refrain from talking or sharing tips on how to maintain feminine hygiene. However, it is important to know about vaginal hygiene to keep your genitals clean and your reproductive tract healthy. No matter what age you are, there are few basic vaginal hygiene rules every woman should know about!
1. Keep the undergarments dry
Not wiping the vagina after urinating can cause the panties to get wet, which can not only lead to bad odour but put you at risk of vaginal infections. Hence, it is always advised to wipe the area using toilet paper or a soft cloth so your underwear is always dry.
The vaginal fluid or discharge is a part of a healthy vaginal environment. The use of products such as talcum powder or excessive wiping of the vagina can make it very dry which can cause itchiness and vaginal dryness. It can also lead to pain during sex and make it prone to injury. Moreover, according to a research study it was reported that perineal use of talcum powder can increase the risk of endometrial cancer.
2. Change sanitary pads after 4-6 hours
According to a Delhi-based gynaecologist Dr. Nupur Gupta, women who have normal blood flow should change a sanitary napkin every four-six hours. The same applies to the days when you have light blood flow. However, if you have heavy flow during menstruation then changing sanitary pads every 3-4 hours is a must. If you are using a tampon, then change it every six hours without fail. Also, clean the area every time you visit a washroom during menstruation.
If sanitary napkins or tampons are not changed for a long time, it can lead to skin rashes and bad odour. In certain cases, it can also put you at risk of infections. Also, some women tend to use reusable cloth pads, which needs to be washed and dried properly before using it.
3. Clean the vagina after intercourse without fail
Make it a habit to clean the vagina every time after indulging in sex. This is because body fluids and particles from condoms can cause irritation. Also, not cleaning up after the act can make you prone to vaginal infections. So always clean the vagina after sex with water to prevent infections like urinary tract infections (UTIs).
4. Avoid using soap while washing your vagina
Avoid using harsh soaps or scented soaps to clean the vagina. The use of soaps laden with harmful chemicals such as glycerol, perfumes and antiseptics can affect the healthy balance of the bacteria in the vagina. Moreover, it can also change the pH in the vaginal region, which can cause irritation and lead to the growth of unhealthy bacteria. Instead use plain soap and water, preferably lukewarm water to wash the area around the vagina.
5. Avoid douching
A douche is a device which flushes up water into the vagina to clean vaginal secretions. Douching involves the use of certain chemicals which can interfere with the vaginal pH. This can, in turn, disrupt the normal vaginal bacteria. Moreover, there is no evidence that douching can protect you against sexually transmitted infections or vaginal infections.
6. Say no to scented feminine hygiene products
It is not a good idea to use feminine hygiene products such as scented wipes, vaginal deodorants or scrubs to keep the vagina healthy. In fact, these products can worsen the condition and make you prone to infections. Moreover, using vaginal scrubs can lead to peeling of the skin, which can further up your risk of infections.
7. Practice safe sex
Unprotected sex carries the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, warts, syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Hence, using protection such as condoms every time you have sex is one of the simplest and effective ways to prevent STIs and vaginal infections and unwanted pregnancies. But before you use one, check if you are allergic to the material of the condom and pick the one that suits you.
Also, avoid using lubes during the act as it can damage the vagina and also put you at risk of infections. The use of lubricants, which contains glycerin, can damage or irritate the vaginal cells, which in turn, ups the risk of STDs such as herpes and HIV. If your partner suffers from any sexually transmitted disease, then it is advised to abstain from sex till the time the symptoms subside or as recommended by your doctor. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
8. Avoid wearing tight clothes
Most experts recommend that you should wear undergarments made from breathable fabrics like cotton. This is because wearing tight clothes and inners made from synthetic fabrics cause sweating due to reduced air circulation. Excessive sweating and moisture can lead to the growth of bacteria and yeast, causing vaginal infection. Avoid using leather pants, tight spandex, and wet bathing suits for a long period of time. Also, do change your clothes after working out or exercising or any activity which can be sweaty.
9. Learn the right way to wipe
Are you wiping the area down the right way? Well, probably not! The right way to clean the vagina is from front to back (the vagina to the anus) and not the other way round. This is because, if you do the other way, then the chances of dragging the harmful bacteria to the vaginal are high. So if you have been wiping in the wrong direction, then it is time to change.
10. Do not shave pubic hair
Some women prefer shaving pubic hair as they think the pubic hair looks gross and unclean. But if research has to be believed, pubic hair acts as a safety net which protects the vulva (outer part of the female genitalia that surrounds the opening of the vagina) from bacterial infections.
Moreover, the use of non-electric shaving methods such as razors for shaving the genital hair was found to cause genital injuries. Also, if you are planning to get it done at a parlour, then beware of the products used which might be laden with chemicals and instruments which can be used without cleaning.
11. Do not ignore signs of vaginal infections
Lastly, but most importantly, do not ignore any signs and symptoms of vaginal infections. Whether you have a stinky smell or excessive vaginal discharge or coloured vaginal discharge, do consult your doctor immediately. Also, do not ignore an itchy vagina or pain in the vaginal region as it could be a sign of an underlying health condition.
12. Never try self-medication
Most women are reluctant to consult a gynaecologist when it comes to infections or diseases of the genital areas such as ringworm infection, pubic lice infection, vaginal dryness, or itching. They, in fact, try some quick home remedies such as using baking soda solution to wash the vagina or applying some homemade paste to get rid of the odour. Moreover, using over the counter antifungal or antibacterial ointment or creams is the go-to remedy if home remedies fail to provide any relief. But this approach is completely wrong. It is best to consult a doctor for all these problems.
Every woman should follow these basic feminine hygiene tips to ensure a healthy vagina. Do share this information with all your friends to spread awareness including your daughters. Because knowing these tips right from puberty can make a huge difference in the overall health and wellness.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
DISCLAIMER: This article is authored and provided by The Times of India Healthy India Fit India partner, 1mg.
1. Karageorgi S, Gates MA, Hankinson SE, De Vivo I. Perineal use of talcum powder and endometrial cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 May;19(5):1269-75.
2. Nicole W. A question for women’s health: chemicals in feminine hygiene products and personal lubricants. Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Mar;122(3):A70-5.
3. Schild-Suhren M, Soliman AA, Malik E. Pubic Hair Shaving Is Correlated to Vulvar Dysplasia and Inflammation: A Case-Control Study. Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 2017;2017:9350307.
What Disrupts Vaginal PH Balance & What You Can Do About It
By The Fixx November 18, 2019
pH Balance & Vaginal Health
Things that can affect your vaginal pH balance include but aren’t limited to:
When Should You Talk To Your Health Provider?
Inflammation or swelling
Abnormal odor (fishy, cheesy)
Unusual discharge (greenish, chunky,)
Pain with sex
Like it? Share it
8 Rules for a Healthy Vagina
If your vagina has a strong or unpleasant odor, see your doctor; a douche will only cover up the smell without curing the problem that’s causing it. Avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers on the vulva or inside the vagina, as these also can affect a healthy pH balance.
Maintain a Healthy Diet for Vaginal Health
You may not realize it, but following a balanced, nutritious diet and drinking plenty of fluids are both key to vaginal and reproductive health. In fact, certain foods may be effective in treating vaginal health problems.
Yogurt can potentially help prevent yeast infections and aid in their treatment. “Yogurt is rich in probiotics, especially plain Greek yogurt, so if a woman is prone to yeast infections, taking a probiotic that is rich in Lactobacilli, or eating plain Greek yogurt every day can be helpful,” notes Millheiser.
If you’re prone to urinary tract infections, research published in July 2012 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine suggested it may be helpful to take a cranberry supplement daily.
Practice Safe Sex to Keep Harmful Germs Away
Using condoms — either the male or female kind — during sex helps to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV, genital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, genital warts, and chlamydia. Some of these, like HIV and genital herpes, have no cure. And others, like the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes genital warts, are known to cause cancer.
You should change condoms when switching from oral or anal sex to vaginal sex, to prevent the introduction of harmful bacteria into the vagina. You should also avoid sharing sex toys with your partner, notes Millheiser, as you can spread STIs that way — especially HPV.
See Your Gynecologist — or Primary Care Doctor — for Preventive Care
Having regular gynecological exams is crucial to maintaining your vaginal health. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women have their first screening gynecologic exam at age 21. It is also recommended that women undergo Pap smears starting at age 21 to screen for changes in vaginal cells that might indicate the presence of cancer. Gynecologists and many primary care physicians are trained to diagnose diseases and disorders that can harm the vagina or your reproductive system as a whole.
Treat Infections When They Arise
Three types of vaginal infections are common: yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis. If you’re prone to yeast infections and you recognize the symptoms, it’s “okay to self-treat with an over-the-counter” medication, says Millheiser. “But if the symptoms don’t go away, then you need to be seen as soon as possible.”
While yeast is a fungal infection, bacterial vaginosis is caused by bacterial overgrowth in the vagina. Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by a parasite and is sexually transmitted. Treating these infections is crucial because not treating them can lead to unpleasant, painful, and serious reproductive health problems. Millheiser notes that if you already have a vaginal infection and are then exposed to HIV, you’re more prone to becoming infected.
It’s worth noting that women who have poorly controlled diabetes or are infected with HIV can often experience recurrent yeast infections. “If you’re experiencing many yeast infections during the course of a year, you should be evaluated by your doctor to make sure that there’s nothing more worrisome going on,” says Millheiser.
Use Enough Lubricant, but Not Petroleum Jelly
Lubrication is an important part of intercourse. Without it, the skin of the labia and vagina can become irritated and chafed. While vaginal lubrication usually occurs naturally during female arousal, some women do not produce enough natural lubricant. In this case, they should use an artificial lubricant to reduce friction and to enhance pleasure.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, certain lubricants can interfere with the sperm and make it difficult to conceive, notes Millheiser. In this instance, she recommends using a pH-balanced product called Pre-Seed. If you’re not trying to get pregnant, water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based lubricants are fine, depending on what your needs are. “If you need a little bit of lubricant, then water-based is great. If you’re experiencing more dryness, consider using silicone-based or oil-based,” says Millhesier.
If you’re using condoms for protection, do not use an oil-based lubricant — they can cause the latex in condoms to break down. Millheiser also cautions, “Never put petroleum jelly or baby oil inside of your vagina. It causes inflammation and can set you up for infection.”
Choose Clothing Carefully to Stay Dry
Your vagina should stay clean and dry — and what you wear can affect that. Certain types of fabrics and tight-fitting clothing create warm, moist conditions in which yeast thrive. Wear breathable cotton underwear and avoid thongs. If you’re prone to yeast infections, change out of wet swimsuits and sweaty workout clothes as quickly as possible.
Dr. Millheiser’s advice: “If you experience a lot of discharge and dampness during the day, take two pairs of underwear with you every day when you go to work or school, and change your underwear during the day. It’ll help you feel more comfortable and will help prevent infection.”
Follow Good Hygiene
Common sense can go a long way in protecting the health of your vagina. After a bowel movement, wipe from front to back to avoid bacterial contamination of the vagina and to lower the risk of bladder infection. Change sanitary pads and tampons regularly during your period. Dr. Millheiser notes that it’s fine to wear panty liners to absorb normal vaginal discharge as long as you change them frequently, though she adds that women who wear them all the time may experience some vulvar irritation.
When reading about hair and skincare, you’ll often encounter the term “pH balance,” as if you’re supposed to have any idea what it means. pH might sound familiar, though, and rightfully so: You learned about it in your high school chemistry class. And, as it would turn out, your skin and hair have their own natural pH levels that, if imbalanced, can lead to dryness and irritation.
And we’ll get to that, but before we dive in, here’s what you need to know about pH: “It stands for ‘potential hydrogen,’” says dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse of Beverly Hills. “It refers to the acid-basic ratio of a substance. The more hydrogen ions available, the more acidic, and the lower the pH.” There is a 0-14 scale denoting if something is alkaline (with high pH) or acidic (low pH). The middle, 7, is neutral, and anything less than that increases in acidity, whereas anything above it increases in alkalinity. Different elements and organisms carry different natural levels, and a neutral 7 isn’t necessarily equilibrium.
Maintaining healthy pH levels is essential to keeping your skin happy, especially on your face. It can help prevent aging and generally keep your face clear of irritation. Here’s how to do it—without trying too hard.
Know Your Natural pH Level
Skin is acidic in its natural state, with levels believed to be somewhere between 5-6 on the pH scale, says Shainhouse. However, some studies have proven that natural, untreated skin gets as low as 4.7. “The skin’s acid mantle, aka the skin barrier, is made up of sebum, lactic and amino acids, and it is what enables the skin to retain moisture and keep out germs, damaging UV rays and environmental pollutants, as well as preventing it from becoming irritated by topical chemicals and skin care products,” she says. There’s no easy way to check the pH balance of your skin. But there are other, more indirect, ways to monitor it.
Watch Out for Signs That Your pH Is Off
If your skin is inflamed, dry, irritated and overly sensitive, it might be suffering from a high pH, Shainhouse says. “The alkali strips the skin of its protective properties. It can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkling.”
Low skin pH—e.g. when it gets too acidic—manifests as redness, irritation, oiliness, or increased acne. “Many skincare products are acid-based and can help treat some acne, but overusing them can remove the protective skin barrier, leaving skin irritated and hypersensitive,” Shainhouse adds. “Healthy skin with a normal pH appears smooth, soft without tightness, dryness, flaking, irritation or itching,” she says. “It doesn’t react or become sensitive to skincare products that you use regularly.”
So Try to Preemptively Maintain Your pH Balance
First and foremost, the pH levels in the water that you shower in can affect your skin—including your scalp. “You want soft, non-alkaline, non-mineral, heavy water for bathing,” says Shainhouse. She suggests getting a water softener if your skin and hair are consistently too dry.
Many soaps of yore were made of lye, which is ultra alkaline, and would dry out the skin—or worse, leave chemical burns on it. Shampoos and soaps that contain sulfates—the ingredient that lathers up all those suds—might also irritate the skin. So Shainhouse suggests using gentle, moisturizing soaps and shampoos, and something slightly acidic—with alpha or beta hydroxyl acid—to maintain proper acidic levels. (Try Murad® AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Body Soap and Davines Minu Shampoo.)
Skin toners are especially good for targeting pH—they’re specifically designed to manage these levels in the skin. “Toners and micellar waters can be used to deliver specific ingredients, including salicylic acid for acne-prone skin, or green tea or chamomile to soothe,” Shainhouse says. (Try Ursa Major 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic.)
Perhaps the best thing you can do for your hair is use a conditioner. “Hair conditioner is actually a ‘toner’, in that it can pH balance the hair after it is altered by alkaline tap water or drying, stripping shampoos,” Shainhouse says. (Try Hanz de Fuko Natural Conditioner.)
Lastly, Shainhouse says that moisturizers add the important levels of hydration that keep skin balanced, while reparative formulations like ceramide- or hyaluronic-acid-packed products will help seal a broken skin barrier to minimize moisture loss and prevent irritation. (Try Dr. Jart+ Ceramide Liquid, Youth to the People Hyaluronic Acid Age Prevention Cream.)
Watch Now The Sneakers You Need to Wear with Everything Right Now
pH Balance and Health
August 2, 2016 by Marilyn Gemino WellnessBlood HealthDietDigestive HealthHealthy EatingEnglish
Life is often a balancing act, and it’s no different for your body’s pH, which stands for “potential of hydrogen.” pH levels are designated on a scale of zero to 14, with the lower the pH meaning more acidic and the higher the pH meaning more alkaline. Neutral pH is 7.0—which is also the pH of water—and a healthy range to shoot for pH-wise is between 6.0 and 7.5.
The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library says that blood that is slightly alkaline—7.35 to 7.45—is optimal for healthy body functioning. In fact, the body has to keep certain fluids such as the blood consistently at a slightly alkaline state in order to maintain health. The blood’s not the only area that prefers a slightly alkaline state, though. The immune, metabolic, enzymatic and restorative processes function better with it as well.
The pH varies in different areas of the body, however. For instance, the stomach must be acidic so that digestive proteins function properly. Interestingly, the pH environment of the body affects how certain cells and proteins in the body work.
In fact, if the pH balance is off in an area—too acidic or even too alkaline at times for its needs—then proteins in the body can change their shape, causing them to not function, according to the Food Science department at Ohio State University. That’s definitely not a good thing, since proteins are the worker molecules for nearly every bodily activity, including the hemoglobin protein carrying oxygen in your blood to your entire body, ion channel proteins controlling brain signaling, and receptor proteins in our cells—and the list goes on and on.
When the body is overall too acidic, then it can lead to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes complications and fragile or brittle bones. Here’s how the body responds to an acidic state. Additionally, it works continually to keep balanced pH levels—especially in the blood—and it will buffer itself by getting rid of excess acid (or base) byproducts through the skin, lungs, saliva and urine. One of the most challenging problems with balancing pH comes from trying to keep ahead of excess bodily metabolic acids which are produced from lack of oxygen, poor diet, environmental toxins, cellular inflammation and metabolic waste products.
When there is chronic acidity—which is the case for many people due to diet and lifestyle choices and other factors—these “buffering” systems can’t keep up and then the body takes alkalizing minerals from tissues and bones to tone down the acidity. When this happens, the minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium are taken from our muscles and nerves, our bones and teeth, our arteries and from our joints to help keep the body’s pH balanced.
In short, the body robs itself of these alkalizing minerals to create pH balance, but leaves behind unhealthy outcomes for those areas and more.
Your diet, lifestyle and overall health state all factor into whether your body is too acidic or not, but you can help to balance your pH by choosing a healthy diet and habits. For example, foods with high alkalinity include watermelon, cucumbers, strawberries, lemons, apples, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, celery, cabbage, spinach, wheatgrass, chia seeds, cold-pressed coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Overall, a diet high in veggies and fruits packed with calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and other alkalizing minerals can go a long way in helping to reach pH balance in the body. Avoiding chemical-laden foods, sugars and refined carbs is important, too.
So, be sure to keep your body’s pH in balance. It will thank you for it.
8 Home Remedies For Vaginal Itch & Rebalancing Your pH
We at Bustle love giving you tips for how to tap into your sexual potential and troubleshoot when things aren’t going your way in the bedroom. But what about finding solutions to those stressful sexual health situations that inevitably crop up when you’re getting down? Emma Kaywin, a Brooklyn-based sexual health writer and activist, is here to calm your nerves and answer your questions. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. This week’s topic: home remedies for vaginal itch that rebalance your pH.
Q: I get a lot of yeast infections. I know what to do when I have a full blown one (an antifungal cream, but if it’s really bad, I call my doctor for an antifungal pill), but I feel like there should be something I can do when I feel that first itch or notice smell or texture changes in my discharge. There have to be some homeopathic remedies to rebalance my vaginal pH before I get a full blown infection! Right?
A: Ah, the perpetual vagina struggle. Pussies are strong, badass, and self-cleaning, and part of how they clean themselves is by maintaining a delicate balance of a bunch of different bacteria that keep you in optimal pH range. When your vagina is anything other than in the 4 to 4.5 pH range, it can start to feel not great. We’re going to learn about some of the things that can help you rebalance your most tender of bits without a trip to the clinic.
“There are many things can mess with vaginal pH including diet (namely, sugar), tight clothes, scented sprays, lotions and soaps, sitting in wet clothes or bathing suits, dehydration, and very acidic foods,” Dr. Adeeti Gupta, founder of Walk In GYN Care, a walk-in gynecological care clinic, tells Bustle. “Vaginal pH varies during pregnancy, menstruation, pre-puberty and after menopause,” she adds.
But it’s important to stress that, like most things affecting the vagina, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. “We have similar bacteria and the general rule of thumb is that bacteria exists in the vagina, but that balance is different and unique to each one of us,” Keely Semler, MPH, a doula based in California, tells Bustle. “What may work for me may not work for you.”
Many home remedies are backed by more anecdotal evidence than rigorous science, which is why if you don’t find relief with the below remedies, or if your symptoms escalate, it’s important to go to the doctor. “If is cottage cheese-like or has a odor which is fishy or foul smelling and looks greenish or deep yellow, then you need to be looked at by a GYN,” Dr. Gupta says. “If you have symptoms like itching or redness, then you may have abnormal vaginal pH as well.”
What Can Unbalance My Vagina?
Your vaginal pH can get unbalanced by many things you probably encounter on a regular basis, including menstruation (becauseblood is pH neutral, which is a higher pH than your optimal, slightly acidic vagina), tampons that have been inside you for too long, and diet (including sugar and gluten, which proponents of the alkaline diet plan think make you more acidic). Antibiotics can knock out the good flora while they’re destroying whatever unwanted bacteria you’re taking them to vanquish. Finally, semen is very basic, because Mother Nature is a cruel mistress.
If you’re in touch with your vagina, it won’t be that hard to know your pH is off, because you’ll start to feel not-great. “Itchiness can be a sign that your vaginal pH if off balance,” Dr. Gupta says. If you find out your vaginal pH is too basic, your symptoms may be due to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. If you have a yeast infection, your vagina might itch in your labia (vaginal lips) or inside your vagina. In addition, your vaginal discharge might look like and have the consistency of cottage cheese — white and clumpy. Finally, some people feel burning in their vaginas, as well as pain during sex or urination. With bacterial vaginosis (BV for short), your vagina may get itchy and your discharge can be thin, gray or white colored, and smell fishy.
On the flip side, your vagina can also be acidic. Technically, it’s always a *little* acidic (since it’s less than a pH of 7), but what it if gets to be too acidic? The technical term for this is cytolytic vaginosis, which is when you have too much lactobacillus. This type of vaginal problem is often mischaracterized as a yeast infection or BV, but really it’s just the opposite! The symptoms are a bit different, so make sure to take a pH test to know for sure that you’re too acidic, and talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your symptoms.
Andrew Zaeh for Bustle
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is anatural antibiotic. As its name indicates, it is acidic, which makes it helpful if your pH has become too basic. But, this does not mean you should put it on or in your vagina.
“Use apple cider vinegar on your salad and not your vagina,” Lauren Streicher, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University and author of Sex RX, told Women’s Health. You can also cut it with water (I like mine with warm water and honey) and drink it — including it in your regular diet can even prevent imbalance.
Yogurt contains lactobacillus, a good bacteria that helps fight bad bacteria in your intestines and vagina and helps your vagina stay in the optimal pH range. Eating yogurt regularly can prevent your vagina from becoming too basic and even help recolonize a vagina with BV with good bacteria, says the Mayo Clinic.
You can buy the same probiotics that make yogurt a powerful vagina ally in pill format to help prevent basic vaginal pH. You can buy them as regular pills you swallow with your mouth to prevent pH imbalance.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Garlic is another natural antifungal that is particularly well-known (by bakers) to kill yeast. Though some studies have found that some compounds in garlic can be helpful when applied topically, most experts say not to put garlic in your vagina to help excessive basicness. Instead, enjoy your food with an extra clove or two of garlic.
5. Boric Acid Suppositories
For a basic vagina, boric acid suppositories are a common alternative treatment for a yeast infection that does have some data that it’s effective. Please note I said “suppositories” — boric acid is toxic if you eat it or put it on an open wound. You can cheaply buy pre-made suppositories over the counter.
7. Coconut Oil
In addition to tasting delicious, coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal elements. One 2007 study found that it was effective on Candida, the species of yeast that causes yeast infections, when tested in laboratory conditions. Cold coconut oil may feel soothing on a vagina with a yeast infection, but be sure to see your doctor if your symptoms don’t go away with over-the-counter treatment.
8. Evaluate Your Sugar Consumption
Many people say that excessive sugar can contribute to “Our skin is an organ that reflects what’s going on internally, so I’d ask how much sugar are you eating. That could perpetuate a yeast infection,” Semler says. You don’t have to cut out sugar entirely — plus, sugar is found in all kinds of food, like fruits and carbohydrate-rich foods — but being mindful of your intake can help you understand what’s going on in your body.
The Bottom Line
Vaginas are pretty good at maintaining their optimal pH balance, but sometimes they need help. Just remember that if you don’t start to feel better after a couple of days or if you start to feel worse, you should go see your doctor. You should also know that sometimes an itchy vagina or weird discharge is actually a sign of something more serious. Basically, do what you gotta do to feel better, but don’t ignore chronic symptoms just because you want to avoid your copay.
This post was originally published on February 24, 2016. It was updated on July 3, 2019.
Vaginal pH: what even is it, and how does it lead to a healthy vagina? Well, you may remember from chemistry that the pH of something determines how acidic or basic it is, and you might be surprised to learn that the pH of your vagina directly relates to its health. A healthy vaginal pH is somewhere between 3.5 to 4.5, and if you’re healthy it should regulate itself and keep it in this acidic range. When your pH is unhealthy, you will likely notice an unpleasant odor, which is a sign of an imbalance like a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. To understand vaginal pH and how we can help keep it healthy to avoid infection, we spoke with Dr. Rinku Mehta, the medical director of Frisco Institute for Reproductive Medicine and sexual health expert Nina Helms, who is also the founder of Sexual Health Enthusiasts (S+HE).
The first thing to understand about vaginal pH is that when it’s healthy, it protects you from infection. It does this with the help of two “good” types of bacteria. Helms explains, “lactobacilli and corynebacterium rule the vulvovaginal ecosystem. Their acid loving symbiotic relationship regulates and dominates by taking up full residence and crowding out unwanted guests.” These bacteria generally do a good job of eating up “unwanted guests” like extra yeast and “bad” bacteria. Dr. Mehta explains that when a woman’s pH is out of whack, she is “more prone to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and possibly sexually transmitted infections if the mucosal layer of the vagina is weakened.”
When your pH is unhealthy, the two key signs are odor and discharge. The three diseases typically associated with unhealthy vaginal pH, bacterial vaginosis (BV), trichomoniasis (trich), and candidiasis (yeast infection), are hugely unpleasant due to the itching, odor, and excessive discharge. BV and trich, for example, can produce a fishy smelling, milky discharge, and yeast overgrowth can produce a cottage cheese-like discharge that can smell a bit like bread or beer.
If you experience these symptoms, a simple test at your OB/GYN or local clinic will identify the culprit, and you’ll be given an antibiotic (for BV or trich) or an antifungal medication (for a yeast infection). If you’re not experiencing any unusual symptoms, chances are you’re all good. Your glorious vagina, when healthy, regulates itself like the true gangsta that it is. “There is no need to check for vaginal pH as a routine,” says Dr. Mehta. “If a woman does not have recurrent vaginal infections or itching/burning symptoms, her vaginal pH is going to be normal.”
While nobody wants health complications, the good news about these infections is that they are manageable and quite common. Nearly 75% of all adult women have had at least one yeast infection in their lifetime, and bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44. And you don’t necessarily have to be sexually active. Dr. Mehta says even if a woman has never had sex, she can get BV or a yeast infection “if she is in otherwise poor health or has abnormal hormone levels and poor diet.” If you are sexually active, you may experience trich which is considered the most common curable STD. In the United States, an estimated 3.7 million people have the infection, but only about 30% develop any symptoms. When people have an infection they don’t know about, it’s because it sorts itself out — which is what I mean when I say the vagina is a glorious, self-regulating machine. And its self-regulation is dependent on healthy pH.
What Happens When your Vaginal pH Balance is off?
“Why do people say ‘grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” – Betty White
Vaginas are strong. They’re also super-sensing, and self-cleansing! Superpowers aside, they can’t do ALL the work, and that means we need to show our vaginas some TLC! We’ll help you better understand vaginal pH and why it’s important to keep it balanced.
What does a woman’s pH level mean?
Let’s go back in time to your high school science class. Not the part where you dissected frogs that reeked of formaldehyde, but the part where you dipped those little litmus paper strips in water-based solutions to determine their pH. The pH of something indicates how acidic or basic it is. A low pH is acidic, a high pH is basic or alkaline.
The body has various pH levels. Our blood, for example, has a somewhat neutral pH of 7.4. But the acid in our stomachs has and acidic pH of 2. A woman’s pH level refers to her vaginal pH. If you’re wondering, “what should my pH level be?”, a healthy vaginal pH falls between 3.8 and 4.5
What causes vaginal pH balance to be off?
A healthy vaginal pH is moderately acidic, which sounds kind of scary, but really it just means that the healthy bacteria (lactobacilli) are doing their job to protect us against harmful bacteria. Our bodies house an array of lactobacilli strains, and the ones that promote a healthy vaginal pH are strains Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Lactobacillus Reuteri. These bacteria eat the glycogen found in vaginal mucus. In exchange, they produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Ever wonder why your underwear gets those tiny bleached out patches? This process is the reason!
The lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide byproducts make the vagina moderately acidic, which inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast which can cause bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections. When your pH balance is off, that means lactobacilli levels are low and can’t keep opportunistic pathogens in check. So, the harmful bacteria can flourish and colonize the vagina.
Pat Benatar sang, “Love is a battlefield”, and when it comes to good vs. bad bacteria, your vagina is no different.
What everyday things cause pH imbalance?
- Using scented soaps and body wash on and near your vulva. The chemicals in these products kill off lactobacilli.
- Antibiotics. While they kill off the bad bacteria that’s causing an infection, they also wipe out the good bacteria too.
- Douching or using feminine sprays. Your vagina cleans itself, don’t waste your time or money!
- Scented tampons, wipes, and pads.
- Changes in hormones during menopause means less estrogen which makes you vulnerable to infection.
- Sex. Individuals have very different bacterial microbiomes on their skin. Exposing those microbiomes to the vagina can disrupt the balance.
- Semen’s alkalinity (pH 7.1-8) can alter vaginal pH.
- Tampons that have been inside the vagina for too long.
- Oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly can remain in the vagina for too long, and disrupt the pH and causing an infection.
Can stress throw off your pH balance? Fitness expert and trainer Kim Lyons, tells Bustle “Stress can affect your pH balances as much as a poor diet.”
What happens when your pH balance is off?
Identifying symptoms is the first step towards seeking medical support and recovery. So, how do you know if your pH balance is off? You may experience BV, yeast infections, or UTI symptoms.
BV symptoms include:
- Burning or painful urination
- A strong fish-like or foul smelling odor
- Gray or white discharge
- Itching or burning pain in the vagina
- Itching around the vagina
Yeast infection symptoms include:
- White, thick, cottage cheese-like discharge
- A yeasty odor
- Redness and swelling of the vulva.
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful urination and intercourse
UTI symptoms include:
- A strong, constant or recurring urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Only urinating small amounts when you do urinate
- Cloudy urine instead of transparent
- Blood in the urine, which often looks red, bright pink, or brownish like coca-cola
- Pungent urine
- Pelvic pain, especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone for women
- Feeling under the weather with possibly having a fever, chills, or body aches
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your physician as soon as possible. They’ll be able to figure out exactly what’s going on, and find a solution best suited to you.
Why do I smell down there even after a shower?
Your vagina smells just fine! Vaginal odor is completely natural and normal. Dr. Lauren Streicher is an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine tells SELF, “When you look at what’s normal, it can have a mild or slight odor that’s not unpleasant.” Vaginas are like sweat, everyone has their own scent. So if something smells off (strong or fishy) it could be from:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Forgetting to take out a tampon
- Having sex without a condom
- Your period
- Yeast infection
- Trichomoniasis, which is caused by a tiny parasite that moves between people during sex.
- Gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Paying attention to what’s normal or not normal for you is important. If you’re experiencing a stronger than usual vaginal odor, see your gynecologist so they can run tests and properly diagnose you.
How do I test my pH level?
You can test your pH level with an at-home vaginal pH test kit. The kit includes a pH test paper that you place against the wall of your vagina for a few seconds. The kit also provides a color chart to determine your results. If your pH is above normal, a common cause is BV. If your pH is below normal, it could be a yeast infection.
An abnormal vaginal pH indicates an infection. However, not all vaginal infections cause changes to vaginal pH. So having a normal pH test doesn’t necessarily mean you’re infection-free.
How do I fix my pH balance?
If you struggle with BV, yeast infections, or UTIs it can seem like it’s a never-ending saga of treatments and trips to the clinic or pharmacy. Managing pH balance is a key component of preventing these infections.
Try vaginal wipes.
For some women, vagnal wipes can provide relief and cleanliness, especially post-intimacy, after workouts, during a heavy flow, or if you don’t have access to a shower. While your vagina is pH balanced and cleans itself, some women swear by the effectiveness of pH balanced wipes. Speak with your gynecologist about trusted and established feminine care brands.
Take a probiotic for vaginal health.
Taking a probiotic capsule daily will restore lactobacilli levels, your body’s natural defense against harmful bacteria and infections. But not all probiotics are created equal. Our probiotic, Promote, contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri—the only two strains clinically proven to restore healthy vaginal pH.
Look at your diet.
Besides cutting down on sugary and processed foods, eating foods that are rich in probiotics like kombucha and yogurt. Consuming apple cider vinegar can prevent imbalance, as well as garlic which is a natural anti-fungal.
Avoid antiseptics, scented soaps, or body wash.
Because the vagina self cleans with natural vaginal secretions (discharge) you might be wondering “how do you wash your vag?” as in, the vulva, labias and the region outside of your vagina. Gently use warm water and hypoallergenic, paraben-free, unscented mild soaps.