What Is Feminine pH Balance and Why Should I Care?
The vagina is a finely tuned organ that knows how to keep you healthy. Its controlled ecosystem helps prevent infection, keeps itself clean, and creates a welcome environment for the “healthy” bacteria to live. It may sound weird to think of our vagina this way, but it’s also very helpful to understand how this vital part of our body works. Understanding pH balance can help you understand how to best clean your intimate area, without disrupting the vagina’s natural balance.
What is a balanced vaginal pH?
Every part of our body regulates its own pH system depending on the needs of the organ. “pH” refers to how acidic or basic (alkaline) a water-based solution is and is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 based on how acidic or alkaline something is. Anything below 7 is acidic; anything above 7 is basic. Pure water has a pH of 7, which is neutral.
The vagina regulates itself by balancing its own pH level through the relationship between our vaginal cells and the “good” bacteria we house. The cells that make up the skin of our vaginas produce a substance called glycogen. This glycogen acts as an energy source for healthy vaginal bacteria called Lactobacilli. This bacteria uses the glycogen to produce lactic acid which helps keep our vaginal pH acidotic, between 3.8 and 4.5. This acidotic environment is ideal for healthy vaginal bacteria and helps prevent growth of harmful bacteria, yeast or viruses.
Your body is very good at keeping your vaginal pH in balance, but when your pH is not in a healthy range, you may be more susceptible to bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections and possibly sexually transmitted diseases. How do you know your vaginal pH is not in a healthy range? You will most likely notice a different odor or change in color of vaginal discharge.
Diet and pH Balance
Keeping your vagina healthy starts with keeping yourself healthy. To keep your cells functioning at their best, you want to maintain overall good health. A diet high in prebiotics and probiotics, like yogurt and pickles, can help keep your “good” bacteria growing as they should. When the good bacteria are healthy, so is your vagina.
Staying hydrated is another way to keep the cells in your body functioning at their best. Our cells are mostly made up of water, so being dehydrated can cause slow cell function or increase the rate of cell death.
Maintaining Good Hygiene
Good hygiene is important for overall health, but you don’t want to overdo it in your vaginal area. Start by wearing breathable underpants to prevent excess moisture. This excess moisture can lead to bacterial or fungal overgrowth, as well as increased odors.
When wearing liners, pads or tampons, make sure to change them every few hours. These products not only catch blood and vaginal discharge, they house bacteria and provide a perfect environment for bad bacteria to grow. Changing products frequently means less exposure to bacteria.
Don’t Over-Clean Your Intimate Area
Avoid harsh and ordinary soaps, especially antibacterial soaps, as they are usually in the range of 9.0 to 10.0 pH. Our skin has a pH around 5.5 so a body wash that is good for your skin may not be acidotic enough for use near your vagina (the external intimate area). Instead, use cleansing products specially formulated for your external intimate area, like Summers Eve® Daily Cleansing Washes, which are balanced to match your natural pH range. These washes are gentle enough to clean your delicate skin without disrupting the normal pH balance of your external intimate area.
Cleansing washes should always be used on your skin, not in your vagina (external use only!). If you have concerns about odor or discharge, speak with your doctor or other healthcare provider as this may be a sign of infection.
Whether we have our period or not, we want to feel fresh and clean in between showers. Simply washing with clean water is enough at times but is not always practical. Avoid using bathroom wipes as many are made with chemicals that are irritating or drying. To stay fresh on the go, look for wipes without alcohol or harsh or ordinary soaps. Summer’s Eve® Daily Cleansing Cloths are pH balanced for cleaning and removing odor, plus they are available in individually wrapped packages to make them easy to carry with you when you’re on-the-go.