What is pH balance?
By SweetSpot Labs®
The term pH refers to a numerical measure of the acidity or alkalinity of any solution. pH values typically vary across a scale from 0 to 14, with the pH of neutral solutions equal to 7, increasing values have increasing alkalinity and decreasing values have increasing acidity. The pH of the vagina corresponds to the secretions continually produced by the vaginal walls.
pH balance is a fundamental component of vaginal health. While the vagina’s pH changes over the course of a woman’s lifetime (see graph for more information), a healthy vagina generally tends towards a more acidic pH, ideally between 4.2 and 5. This results from the presence of lactobacillus, normally occurring bacteria that produce lactic acid. This acidic environment provides a natural barrier against infection and irritation.
Should the vagina’s pH change and become more basic (less acidic), weakening this natural defense mechanism, other bacteria will proliferate in the vagina. A more basic pH promotes the growth, for instance, of Candid albicans, the fungus that leads to yeast infections. Other types of vaginitis, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), are also encouraged by pH imbalance. Symptoms of vaginitis can include irregular discharge, itching, irritation, and vaginal odor.
There are a variety of causes of vaginal pH imbalance, among which are certain antibiotics that destroy healthy bacteria, overused or retained tampons, intrauterine and other contraceptive devices, and changes in pH before and after menstrual periods. Even daily habits can disrupt the vagina’s pH balance. Not only can diet and exercise influence pH, but the introduction of male secretion and certain soaps, both of which can have pH values well in excess of 7, can also raise the pH of the vagina and compromise the stability of this environment.
While it is best to consult a gynecologist as to the maintenance of pH balance, taking preventative measures in one’s day-to-day life considerably reduces the incidence and severity of consequences. Good vulvar (labia, clitoris and vagina) care, for instance, appreciably reduces the risk of infection. This involves preventing the spread of bacteria from the anal area to the vulva, keeping the area around it dry and exposed to air, and avoiding irritating soaps, fabric softeners and douching.
Ultimately, with the right resources and information, problems arising from aberrations in the vagina’s pH balance are as preventable as they are common. SweetSpot Labs recognizes and seeks to create products tailored to the very specific physiological needs of this part of the female anatomy, bridging the divide between often unexplained frustration and discomfort with practical, viable solutions.
Disclaimer: Content provided in this essay regarding health or health matters has not been evaluated or approved by a board certified physician. Although we believe that all of the information contained in this essay is entirely correct and factual, we are not doctors and highly recommend consulting a physician regarding any medical problems or treatments.