Learning Center

Vaginal pH: What You Need to Know

by Dr. Alyssa Dweck^

Vaginal pH: What You Need to Know

The material provided below is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the diagnosis or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. You should always seek medical advice before consuming any new medicines or supplements. AZO products referenced on this website are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease such as overactive bladder, urinary tract infections, or vaginal infections.

Dr. Dweck is a paid spokeswoman for AZO®. The information provided herein is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as medical advice or to replace professional medical care. You should always seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new medication or dietary supplement. The opinions stated herein are those solely of the writer and do not portray the opinions of the AZO® brand, i-Health, Inc. or DSM. AZO® products referenced on this website are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease such as overactive bladder, urinary tract infections or vaginal infections.

The vagina is an incredible organ has mechanisms to keep the pH in a healthy acidic range, 3.8–4.5. Put simply, the vagina maintains a delicate balance of yeast and bacteria, including the all-important lactobacilli. When the vaginal pH is thrown off balance, women might experience a litany of unpleasant symptoms including an abnormal discharge or drainage, a fishy foul odor, pain with urination or intercourse, irritation and redness at the opening and swelling. 

Common Causes That Can Throw Off Vaginal pH

Common causes that can disrupt vaginal pH levels include infections like BV (bacterial vaginosis), yeast and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. A quick trip to your doctor can determine if you have an infection that needs to be treated.

Surprisingly, a reaction to various external irritants may also wreak havoc on vaginal pH. 

  • Hygiene Products: Fragrant tampons, highly fragrant soaps and body washes, baby wipes and douches are the usual suspects.  
  • Certain Medications: These, as well as some oral contraceptives, may also impact vaginal pH levels.
  • Sex: Spermicides, sexual activity and some lubricants might spell trouble for this delicate vaginal microbiome.
  • Synthetic Undergarment Fabrics: 24/7 panty liner use and materials that aren’t breathable can be causative, since yeast and bacteria thrive in moist, dark environments.

Ways to Stay Proactive About Vaginal Health

What’s a woman to do? Here are some helpful hints to keep your vagina happy:

  • Avoid highly fragrant soaps, body washes and bath bombs. Aim for a hypoallergenic variety with minimal fragrance and fewer chemicals.
  • Skip the baby wipes and scented toilet paper and aim for plain white paper, moistened with water if needed.
  • Reduce your use of synthetic materials as they are usually not breathable; cotton is best.
  • Remember to take panty liner breaks, at least at night. 
  • Take a probiotic specifically targeting women’s health: AZO Complete Feminine Balance® helps restore and maintain the balance of good bacteria and yeast*, to help optimize and help maintain a healthy vaginal pH*.

It’s always best to check in with your healthcare provider if you suspect something just isn’t right. Be vigilante about keeping vaginal pH balance—your vaginal health depends on it!

ABOUT DR. ALYSSA DWECK:

Dr. Alyssa Dweck^ is a practicing OB-GYN in Westchester County, N.Y. She has been voted Top Doctor in New York Magazine and Westchester County. She is proficient in gynecologic surgery, has expertise in female sexual health and provides gynecologic care to women of all ages. Dr. Dweck has co-authored three books, including “The Complete A to Z for Your V: A Women's Guide to Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Vagina—Health, Pleasure, Hormones, and More,” which tells women of all ages what they need to know about their own unique health.

AZO® and AZO Complete Feminine Balance® are trademarks of DSM.

^ Dr. Dweck is a paid spokesperson for AZO®.