Vaginal pH plays a very important role in your overall vaginal health. It can vary due to a woman’s age, menstrual cycle, or sexual activity. If you are concerned that your vaginal pH is unbalanced, then you should see your gynecologist to get help treating the problem. However, there are also some things that you can do to balance your vaginal pH.
Symptoms of Vaginal pH Imbalance
In a healthy woman, the vaginal pH is slightly acidic – between 3.8 and 4.5. A slightly acidic pH is essential and guards the vagina against infections. It does not let harmful bacteria and fungi grow there.
This is natural and for the protection of the female genital organs. Certain beneficial bacteria stay there and help in maintaining this feminine pH balance.
Vaginal pH imbalance symptoms include vaginal itching, excess vaginal discharge, burning while urinating, and even infections.
Causes of Disturbed Vaginal pH
Causes of vaginal pH imbalance include:
- Improper hygiene of the area
- Tight clothing habit
- Douching or washing the vaginal canal with harsh soaps
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Certain medications like anti-histamines
- Too much of caffeine or aerated drinks
Home Remedies to Balance Vaginal pH
Use a cold compress. If your vaginal area is itchy, then soaking a clean cotton washcloth in cold water, wringing it out, and applying it to your vaginal area may provide some relief. Do this as often as needed.
Take probiotics or eat yogurt. The good bacteria in yogurt and probiotic supplements can help restore your vaginal pH. Add a serving of yogurt to your diet to get more beneficial bacteria.
If you want to try a probiotic supplement, make sure that you check with your doctor first. Also make sure that you choose a brand that lists the strains, species, and genus or the probiotics, a best by date that says how many organisms will still be alive, the manufacturer’s contact information, and the dosage information.
Try vaginal probiotic suppositories. Vaginal probiotic suppositories have been studied to determine how well they treat bacterial vaginosis, but they have not been studied for use on healthy vaginas.
These suppositories are thought to work by repopulating the good bacteria in a woman’s vagina, but not enough is known to recommend them for casual use. Talk to your gynecologist before you decide to try any probiotic suppositories.
How to Balance Vaginal pH with Lifestyle Changes
Keep your vagina clean. Whenever you shower or bathe, wash the outside of the vagina (including your labia) with warm water and a mild, unscented soap.
- Only wash the parts of your vagina that are on the outside of your body. Do not put soap or water into your vaginal canal.
Wipe from front to back. Because the vagina is so near to the anus, there is always a risk of bacterial contamination. To minimize this risk, make sure that you always wipe from the front to the back. It is also a good idea to use white, unscented toilet paper only to avoid irritation from perfumes and dyes.
Practice safe sex. Make sure that you are practicing safe sex by using a condom every time you have sex.
Keep in mind that having multiple partners increases the risk of disrupting your vaginal pH and developing bacterial infections.
Use sanitary pads and unscented tampons. Avoid perfumed or scented sanitary products such as tampons and sanitary pads. The perfumes in these products can disrupt your vaginal pH. Try using unscented sanitary products only.
Even unscented tampons may disrupt vaginal pH for some women, so you may want to stick to sanitary pads instead. If you do use tampons, make sure that you change them every 4-6 hours.
Stop douching and using vaginal deodorants. It is best to avoid douches and vaginal deodorants because they disrupt the pH balance of your vagina and increase your risk of infection.
- Keep in mind that douching has been associated with all kinds of negative effects including bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, and infertility.
- Steer clear of bubble baths, bath oils, talc, and powder as well. The chemical in these products can irritate your vagina and throw off vaginal pH.
Wear 100% white cotton underwear. White cotton underwear is less likely to disrupt your vaginal pH than other types of underwear.
- Change your underwear twice daily, such as in the morning and in the evening. You should also change your underwear if they become moist, such as from sweating.
- Make sure that your underwear are not too tight either and that they are clean and dry as well.
Getting Medical Help to Balance Vaginal pH
See a doctor for a diagnosis. If you think you may have a vaginal infection due to the smell or feeling of your vagina, then you should make an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist for a diagnosis.
You should also see a doctor if you develop serious symptoms. Make sure that you call your physician right away if:
- You have abdominal pain
- You develop a fever
- Sexual activity is painful or very uncomfortable
- You experience difficulty or pain on urination
- There is no improvement in your symptoms within 2-3 days
Check for signs of bacterial vaginosis. Sometimes when vaginal pH is out of balance, you may develop a bacterial infection such as bacterial vaginosis. The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:
- A burning sensation when you urinate
- A foamy vaginal discharge with an unpleasant vaginal odor, often described as a “fishy” smell
- Itchiness and irritation around the vagina
Check for trichomoniasis symptoms. Infections with the trichomonas organism are common as well. Keep in mind that many people with trichomoniasis have no symptoms. Symptoms of trichomoniasis in women include:
- Vaginal itching
- A frothy or foamy yellow or a gray-green colored vaginal discharge that has an unpleasant smell
- Painful urination
Watch for signs of a vaginal yeast infection. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are similar to those of bacterial vaginosis. These symptoms include:
- An abnormal white vaginal discharge that may be either watery or thick and chunky (often described as looking like cottage cheese)
- Painful urination
- Itching and burning of the vagina and labia
- Painful intercourse
- Redness and swelling of the area just outside of the vagina