Vaginal pH Balance
In a healthy female body, the vaginal pH levels are slightly towards the acidic side, somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5.
This is natural and for the protection of the region down there. This pH is maintained by a constant supply of vaginal secretions, and certain beneficial bacteria that stay there and help in maintaining this pH.
A slightly acidic pH is essential and guards the vagina against infections. It does not let harmful bacteria and fungi grow there.
Most harmful bacteria, Trichomoniasis and yeast infections, need a near neutral pH of 7 to grow abundantly.
Apart from maintaining the pH, vaginal secretions also serve to lubricate the canal and cleanse it on a regular basis.
Symptoms of pH Imbalance
An imbalance in the vaginal pH makes the area unhealthy. It becomes prone to infections.
You may get symptoms like:
- Itching and irritation over the labia or opening of the vagina
- Redness or soreness
- Rashes over labia or near the opening
- Sometimes, the area may appear swelled
- Burning while urinating or during sex
- Excess discharges from the vagina
Causes of Disturbed Vaginal pH
- Improper hygiene of the area.
- Douching or washing the vaginal canal with harsh soaps, as this washes off protective vaginal secretions and essential friendly bacteria.
- Tight clothing habit
- Disturbed diet or sleep
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Long courses of antibiotics, taken for some other ailment, may kill friendly bacteria down there, altering vaginal pH.
- Temporarily, after menstrual flow
- Hormonal problems, that reduce or alter vaginal secretions
- Around and after menopause
- Atrophy of cells in the canal due to age or certain treatments, as that of cancer.
- Too much of caffeine or aerated drinks. These are alkaline in nature.
- Certain medications like anti-histamines
How to Restore Vaginal pH in a Natural Way?
This requires nothing more than a healthy lifestyle and basic principles of hygiene.
- Keep the area clean and dry. A regular bathing schedule, including cleaning of the area with plain water, is enough. After bathing, dab the area with a dry towel.
- Douching is actually harmful. It kills and washes away the beneficial bacteria that stay in the vaginal region. This disturbs the vaginal pH and the area becomes prone to dryness and infections.
- Similarly, avoid the use of harsh soaps on the area.
- Wear loose cotton based undergarments most of the time, particularly at night times. They allow the area to breathe while you sleep.
- One should prevent moisture getting trapped in the vaginal area. Moistness predisposes to fungal infections.
- Avoid excess of tea, coffee and other carbonated drinks that directly influence the vaginal pH. Most aerated drinks shift the pH towards alkaline side, hence making you prone to infections.
- Too much of junk food is bad. Processed food contains lots of salts, preservatives, that affects the flora of the region and hence the health.
- Eat healthy. Actually, it is our diet that is the key point in having a healthy body, including a healthy vagina. Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water.
- Fresh fruit juices and yogurt are the best to restore back the vaginal pH. Have them on a regular basis to keep the area healthy.
- Cleaning manners in the area are important. Always wipe off from front to back, never the other way, after you defecate. This is to avoid direct contamination of the vagina by fecal bacteria.
- Change your sanitary napkins frequently. Practice safe sex always. Change condoms when required.
- Avoid taking hormonal pills, unless prescribed.
If you observe any itching, burning or discharge from your vagina, you may use vaginal pH test strips to check if the pH has been disturbed.
How to Test Vaginal pH
Vaginal pH test kits are available. You can check the pH simply by putting them in your vaginal canal (not deep into it, just superficially) and noting down the change in color of the test strip.
This can be done at home.
The cause of high or low vaginal pH needs to be investigated and treated.
Treatment at Home
As recommended above, a change in eating habits and lifestyle can help you a great deal. Shift to a healthy eating schedule, avoid excess of caffeine, junk food and aerated drinks.
Eating home made curd or yogurt, twice a day, can dramatically help in restoring back vaginal pH.
For immediate relief, apple cidar vinegar douche may be tried. However, this may work only when you’re sure that the pH is towards alkaline side, and you need to make it a bit acidic. So, prerequisites include knowing your pH. This can be done by using pH testing kits.
Also, ensure that there are no cuts, abrasions or rashes down there. If you have any of these, better to see a doctor before trying anything at home.
Apple Cidar Vinegar Douche
This would immediately make the vaginal pH a bit acidic and help alleviating symptoms. You need a douching kit for this.
Apple cidar vinegar is diluted in water and douched inside. Dilution is very important, as this vinegar is very acidic and if not diluted well, it may burn your tissues inside.
You may mix one table spoon of ACV in one liter of water. First pour it superficially over the affected area. If it doesn’t burn, you may try it internally.