We often don’t think about vaginal pH. After all, the vagina is good at managing itself. But sometimes, things can go awry down there. When vaginal pH is out of balance, a host of symptoms can appear—symptoms like dryness, itching, irritation, unusual discharge, and peculiar odors.
How do you know if your vaginal pH is on par, and how do you keep it that way? We’ve got all the answers to keep your vagina in check. So read on!
Why Does Vaginal pH Matter?
Your body has a healthy pH level between 7.35 and 7.45. This pH balance keeps everything running in working order. However, the vagina is more acidic than the rest of your body, with a standard pH between 3.8 and 4.5. Your vagina has its own microbiome with an abundance of different beneficial bacteria. The higher pH comes from a specific bacteria known as Lactobacilli. This good bacteria is crucial for warding off offenders by producing a healthy level of hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid.
If your vaginal pH shoots above the 4.5 level, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for not-so-great bacteria and fungi. This change can lead to a host of uncomfortable issues that have us rushing for an appointment with our healthcare provider.
What Causes Changes in Vaginal pH?
Though the vagina is self-regulating, small changes in our body can throw our pH off-kilter. Healthy pH levels can fluctuate due to changes caused by:
- Certain medications
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Reduction in estrogen levels
How Does Menopause Affect Vaginal pH?
Estrogen levels drop during menopause, which can cause vaginal pH to rise above 4.5. This rise alone won’t cause irritation and other symptoms of vaginal infection. But the increase can change the vaginal microbiome, which alters your natural network of healthy bacteria.
If you notice changes in the vagina like itching, burning, irritation, unusual discharge, and strange odors, pH changes may be to blame. Talk with your healthcare provider about supporting healthy estrogen levels during menopause.
What Can I Do To Keep my pH In Check?
Your vagina is pretty incredible and does an excellent job at keeping things in working order down there. However, specific lifestyle changes may disrupt a healthy pH balance.
If you notice your vagina seems a little off, we recommend:
- Eating a healthy diet chock full of whole fresh foods
- Reducing your intake of added sugar, caffeine, and alcohol
- Getting plenty of daily exercise and sufficient sleep
- Avoiding harmful chemicals that can irritate your vagina like perfumes, douches, and scented soaps
- Using pH balanced products and intimate care items to support vaginal health
- Addressing stress and finding ways to manage it
Remember, changes in your vagina every month are normal. After all, it has its own unique microbiome. So it’s important not to mess with nature if you aren’t sure what’s going on.
If the recommended lifestyle changes don’t help restore order, talk with your doctor about other causes that may have thrown your pH out of whack.