Have you ever wondered how healthy your vagina is? Well, just like the rest of our body, vaginal health relies on many factors, and the most important thing is probably its pH levels.
Now, just a quick run through of pH levels. This is a scale that ranges from 0 – 14 that indicates whether your body is acidic or alkaline – with 7 being the neutral level. If pH is below 7, it means our body is acidic, while pH greater than 7 means that it is alkaline.
Though our body often aims for neutral levels, a healthy vagina should range from pH 3.5 to 4.5. The reason why it needs to be more acidic is to protect itself from bacteria that leads to infections and irritations. Once the pH in your vagina goes over 4.5, you might notice an unpleasant odor, and when you do, you probably already have a yeast infection going on down there. And you don’t want this to get worse as you will be prone to getting sexually transmitted infections.
With the ideal pH, your vagina will naturally produce good bacteria such as lactobacilli and corynebacterium. These bacteria will protect you from vaginal diseases like bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and candidiasis.
Some symptoms of an unhealthy vagina include unpleasant odor and discharge. The odor can vary from a fishy smell to a bread or beer-like scent with yeast overgrowth. Unhealthy discharge, on the other hand, is milky and sometimes has the same consistency as cottage cheese. Sometimes, these symptoms are accompanied by itching which can be really irritating. It is normal for your vagina to produce discharge, as long as it is clear and does not have a foul scent.
The pH levels in our vagina change within days, and this can be affected by menstruation, hormones, antibiotics, and even your diet. For instance, period blood has a pH level of 7, so this will naturally alter the pH in your vagina as it flows through it. Those who often use tampons are more prone to getting infections when it is left inside for too long.
Women who always stay hydrated, have a balanced diet, and practice safe sex are more likely to have a normal vaginal pH. And those who include yogurt or probiotics in their diet do too, as these contain lactobacillus. On the other hand, women who are not hygienic and eat loads of carbs and sugar have more chances of getting yeast infection.
Almost all women will experience this at least once in their lifetime due to the changes that occur in the body, so do not panic if you get one of the symptoms stated earlier. If you do, it is best for you to visit your doctor, so you can be treated with antibiotics or anti-fungal medications right away. But infections can be avoided by using gentle soap with lower pH levels. Try to stay away from antibacterial soaps as these tend to have higher pH levels. Furthermore, douching is not really ideal because it tends to wash off the good bacteria that your vagina produces naturally.