pH is not just something you measure in your fish tank. It is a measure of how basic or acidic a chemical is when it’s in water which has a neutral pH of 7. Anything lower is considered acidic and anything higher is considered basic. Our bodies are composed of chemicals and their systems have varying pH levels, depending on their functions. For example, the normal pH of blood is about 7.4. Its basic function is to serve as a carrier of compounds to all systems in the body to enable proper function. In contrast, because the stomach needs acid to digest foods, stomach fluids’ normal pH range is 1.5-3.5.
Vaginal pH is in the range of 3.8-4.5. When the pH level is outside of this range, a series of complications can ensue.
Some signs of an abnormal pH include:
● An unpleasant, fishy smell
● Unusual white or gray discharge
● Burning during urination
Some complications as a result include:
● Bacterial infections
● Fungal infections
● Bacterial Vaginosis: This occurs when there’s a bacterial overgrowth in the vagina. It’s what causes the fishy smell. The condition doesn’t pose an immediate health threat. However, those who do have it are more likely to contract HPV.
Causes of bacterial vaginosis include:
● Having sex without a condom: Semen is more basic than the more acidic vaginal condition and can disrupt pH.
● Antibiotics: In addition to killing the bad bacteria in the body, they also kill the good guys!
● Periods: Blood that passes through the vagina has a more basic pH than the cervix and can disrupt the balance.
● Douching: Although it can make you feel ‘clean’ when you do it, it disrupts the vagina’s delicate ecosystem and result in unbalanced pH.
What you can do to maintain healthy vaginal pH:
● Use a condom- it will protect your body from semen which is disruptive to your ecosystem.
● Avoid douching
● Take probiotics to restore the natural balance of your delicate ecosystem
● Dig into some yogurt! It will introduce good bacteria into your body.
● Schedule regular visits with your OBGYN: Going regularly can help catch health issues before they have a chance to start or in their early stages. Practicing preventive health care is easier than solving a problem and doesn’t affect quality of life.
If you have any questions regarding your vaginal health, schedule an appointment with us today by calling South Bay Ob/Gyn at 631-203-8893.