We see it very often on products at the drugstore: a natural pH. But what exactly does this mean? And is the pH of your vagina healthy? Here's some information on pH.
pH balance of a healthy vagina
The pH balance is a fundamental component of your vaginal health. The term pH refers to a numerical measure of the acidity or alkalinity of any solution. pH-values typically vary across a scale from 0 to 14, with the pH of neutral solutions equal to 7, increasing values have increasing alkalinity and decreasing values have increasing acidity. The pH of the vagina corresponds to the secretions continually produced by the vaginal walls.
While the vagina's pH changes over the course of a woman's lifetime, a healthy vagina generally tends towards a more acidic pH, ideally between 4.2 and 5. This results from the presence of lactobacilli, normally occurring bacteria that produce lactic acid. This acidic environment provides a natural barrier against infection and irritation.
A weakened defence
Should the vagina's pH change and become more basic (less acidic), weakening this natural defense mechanism, other bacteria will proliferate in the vagina. A more alkaline pH promotes the growth, for instance, of Candida albicans, the fungus that leads to yeast infections. Other types of vaginitis, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), are also encouraged by pH imbalance. Symptoms of vaginitis can include irregular discharge, itching, irritation, and vaginal odor.
Causes of imbalance
There are a variety of causes of vaginal pH imbalance, among which are certain antibiotics that destroy not only the harmful bacteria, but also the healthy bacteria; overused or retained tampons, intrauterine and other contraceptive devices, and changes in pH before and after menstrual periods. Even daily habits can disrupt the vagina's pH balance. Not only can diet and exercise influence pH, but the introduction of male secretion and certain soaps, both of which can have pH-values well in excess of 7, can also raise the pH of the vagina and compromise the stability of this environment.
Maintaining the pH balance
While it's best to consult a gynecologist as to the maintenance of pH balance, taking preventative measures in one's day-to-day life considerably reduces the incidence and severity of consequences. Good vulvar (labia, clitoris and vagina) care, for instance, appreciably reduces the risk of infection. This involves preventing the spread of bacteria from the anal area to the vulva, keeping the area around it dry and exposed to air, and avoiding irritating soaps and fabric softeners.
If you like to use a vaginal douche, like the Multi-Gyn Vaginal Douche, combine it with a special douching fluid, that's especially suited to the vaginal pH. After douching, use some Multi-Gyn ActiGel to rebuild the vaginal flora and to maintain the natural pH. Compare it with a wound: first you clean it, then you apply stuff to treat it.
If you want to know your own natural pH, you can get pH-testers at your local pharmacy or drug store...
Bye for now!