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 vigilant about keeping vaginal pH balance—your vaginal health depends on it!
ABOUT DR. KIRA SCHMID HALAK:
Dr. Kira Schmid Halak received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. Dr Halak is Senior manager of global R&D (Research & Development) for the AZO and Estroven brands and is passionate about women’s health. She was also the scientific director for the integrative medicine textbook, Disease Prevention & Treatment, and she is often heard on national and regional health programs, as well as being a frequent contributor to widely read health and wellness publications.
AZO® and AZO Complete Feminine Balance® are trademarks of DSM.