Vagina pH Balance
Did you know that the pH level of your vagina can have a significant effect on your overall vaginal health?
While you may not know much about pH balance levels and how they affect your vagina, it is never too late to learn.
For those that experience frequent vaginal infections or inflammations such as bacterial vaginosis and vaginal thrush, the pH balance of your vagina is even more important.
Read on to discover:
- What is vaginal pH?
- What is a normal vaginal pH?
- What causes an unbalanced vaginal pH?
- How to you know if your pH balance is off?
- What are the most common signs of an unbalanced vaginal pH?
- How to correct an unbalanced vaginal pH
- How to maintain a healthy vaginal pH balance
- How to naturally balance vaginal pH
- Vagina pH balance FAQs
What is vaginal pH?
The pH of something refers to how acidic or alkaline it is. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with anything less than 7 considered to be acidic. In terms of your vagina, its pH level is crucial in its overall health, with an imbalance leaving you susceptible to infections such as bacterial vaginosis.
What is a normal vaginal pH?
A normal vaginal pH lies anywhere between 3.8 and 4.5, which is a moderately acidic environment. However, the optimal pH can change at different times in your life, such as during your reproductive years and during menopause.
So, why does vaginal pH balance matter?
In its simplest form, your vagina needs to have an acidic environment to be able to prevent bad bacteria and yeast from multiplying and causing infections.
What causes an unbalanced vaginal pH?
There are many factors that can affect your vaginal pH balance. You might experience pH changes during ovulation period, which is considered normal.
If you have unprotected sex, this can cause an unbalanced vaginal pH. This is because semen is alkaline. You are more likely to experience an imbalance with a new partner than a long-term one, and women with multiple partners are more likely to have a pH imbalance.
Antibiotics are often used to treat vaginal infections. However, these will kill not only the bad bacteria but the good bacteria also. This is why women are more likely to get yeast infections when taking antibiotics.
When you are menstruating, the blood can raise the pH level in your vagina. This happens when blood flows through the vagina and sits on a tampon or pad. To reduce your risk of vaginal infections, do not wear a tampon overnight, and make sure to change your pads and tampons frequently.
How do you know if your pH balance is off?
If you are wondering “how do you know if your pH balance is off”, then the below signs and symptoms of an unbalanced vaginal pH can help you:
- A foul or fishy smell
- A change in discharge such as grey, white, or green
- Vaginal itching
- Burning when you urinate
What are the most common infections that occur from an unbalanced vagina?
When you have an unbalanced vagina, you may experience one of the following infections:
Bacterial vaginosis, often referred to as BV, is a bacterial infection that is typically caused by an unbalanced vaginal pH. Although BV is not a sexually transmitted infection, you are more likely to get this infection if you are sexually active, especially if you have multiple partners.
A bacterial vaginosis ph is typically 5 or higher, whereas a normal vaginal pH is about 4.
You can recognise BV by the following symptoms:
- Grey, white or yellow discharge
- A distinct fishy odour
- Vaginal itching
- Burning during urination
Bacterial vaginosis can either be treated with an over-the-counter remedy or with antibiotics prescribed by a GP or sexual health clinic.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a tiny parasite. It is often referred to as Trich, and it affects both your vagina and your urethra.
If you have a high vaginal pH, as in one above 4.5, you are more at risk of contracting trichomoniasis.
The most common signs of Trich include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge, which may be thick, frothy, yellow, or green
- Fishy-smelling discharge
- Vaginal itching, swelling, or soreness
- Pain when urinating
- Pain when having sex
Trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics that need to be prescribed by your GP or a sexual health practitioner.
How to balanced vaginal pH
Depending on the symptoms you are experiencing, there will be different ways that you can correct your unbalanced vaginal pH.
The most common infection caused by an unbalanced vaginal pH is bacterial vaginosis which can be treated using antibiotics or acidic vaginal gels. These are typically taken for 7 days, although you can also get a cream, which applies directly into the vagina.
If you have a yeast infection, you can try an over-the-counter vaginal thrush treatment which can either be taken orally or inserted into the vagina.
How to maintain a healthy vaginal pH balance
To avoid any future vaginal infections, inflammation or irritations, there are several vaginal care practices that you can adopt. These include:
Practice safe sex
When you have sex, you should use a barrier method such as a condom. Not only will this protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, but it will also prevent semen (which is alkaline) from affecting the pH levels in your vagina.
If you are prone to vaginal infections, particularly bacterial vaginosis and thrush, then taking a daily probiotic can help. These contain the good bacteria that your vagina needs and can help to restore balance.
Try a vaginal wash
Although you should avoid perfumed soaps as this can upset your vagina, you can safely use a pH balance vaginal wash as these are specially formulated to support the growth of good bacteria in your vagina while simultaneously suppressing the bad bacteria.
These can be used daily and are ideal for women who get persistent or chronic vaginal infections such as BV or thrush.
If you are looking for a more natural way to balance your vaginal Ph, then you can start eating yoghurt on a daily basis. Yoghurt contains lots of lactobacilli, which is a type of good bacteria that your vagina needs to remain healthy.
Visit your GP
If you notice any changes to your vagina, such as a change in discharge, odour, or any itching, you should make an appointment with your GP or visit your nearest sexual health clinic.
Most vaginal infections can be treated with either over-the-counter medication or antibiotics, but the longer they are left untreated, the more serious they can become.
How to naturally balance vaginal pH?
If you think that your vagina pH is out of balance, but you are not experiencing any particularly unpleasant symptoms, you may want to try and balance your pH using some simple home remedies.
While this is not proven to be as effective as over-the-counter and prescription medications, they are safe and may help to naturally balance your vaginal pH levels.
Try a boric acid suppository
Boric acid has been used to treat BV for many years and may be able to help treat mild symptoms of BV. You can buy boric acid suppositories online or at most pharmacies.
Garlic contains lots of antibiotics that can help to fight off bad bacteria. If you want to try garlic for vagina health, opt for garlic supplements. Garlic should never be inserted directly into the vagina as this can cause burning.
There are many factors that affect your overall vaginal health and your vaginal pH balance, including your lifestyle choices. For optimal vaginal health, make sure that you exercise regularly, eat a nutritiously balanced diet, and take steps to reduce your stress levels.
Vaginal pH balance FAQs
Could stress cause vaginal discharge pH?
Stress can affect your vaginal health, including your vaginal pH balance, so you should find healthy ways to manage your stress levels. These include exercising, practicing deep breathing, and meditating.
How to get vaginal pH back from thrush?
If a vaginal pH imbalance has caused thrush, you need to seek vaginal thrush treatment. These can be bought over-the-counter and can be taken orally or inserted directly into the vagina. To prevent your vaginal pH from causing thrush, you should practice safe sex, avoid douching and take a daily probiotic.
How do I fix my pH balance?
To fix your vaginal pH balance, avoid using scented soaps, and having unprotected sex. If you have bacterial vaginosis as a result of an unbalanced pH, you can buy over-the-counter bacterial vaginosis pH remedies for mild cases or take antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
You can start using an over-the-counter product such as Multi-Gyn ActiGel, a natural acidic gel that regulates the pH. If visiting a GP, they could treat with antibiotics, or you could use a prescribed cream, which involves you applying it directly into the vagina
What happens when your feminine pH balance is off?
In some cases, nothing will happen if your feminine pH balance is off, and your body will naturally correct itself. However, if you have symptoms such as vaginal itching or a change in vaginal discharge, you may have picked up an infection such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush.
Having an unbalanced vaginal pH also puts you more at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, so you should go to your GP or nearest sexual health clinic for a check-up if you have had unprotected sex recently.
Does an unbalanced pH cause a bad odour?
An unbalanced pH can lead to an infection known as bacterial vaginosis. This often causes a distinct fishy-smelling odour which can be quite strong. Other symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include vaginal itching, burning when urinating, and a grey, white, or yellow discharge.
You can buy pH products for vag odour over-the-counter or online without the need for a prescription from your GP.