Yes, your vagina falls under the scale of PH levels. PH levels indicate the acidic or alkaline nature of a substance. The PH level consists of a range from 0-14, and 0 stands for the most acidic, while 14 stands for the most alkaline, also known as basic nature. The middle spot 7 is neutral, meaning that it is neither acidic nor basic. Water has a PH level of 7 since it is a neutral liquid.
Your vagina falls under the acidic scale of the PH level. The normal PH level for the vagina ranges from 3.8 – 5.0 on the scale. To make it easier for you to understand, imagine the acidic levels of an orange. Yes, the acidic level of orange juice is similar to the acidic levels in your vagina. This acidic range differs from woman to woman, depending on her age, menstrual cycle, and sexual intercourse.
Why is your vagina acidic?
While reading this, you might wonder why the vagina is so acidic. Your vagina is designed to be acidic due to several factors. The acidic nature of the vagina protects it from the harmful bacteria and yeast thriving in your vagina. When the acidic levels pass PH level 5 in your vagina, it is easier for the bacteria and yeast to multiply in it too quickly. This causes you to have vaginal infections, meaning you will probably need a doctor’s visit. So now you know; the vagina is acidic to protect itself.
What is a vaginal microbiome?
Now that you know why your vagina is acidic, it is time to dive into what it contains. A microbiome implies a collective community of microbes. Microbes are tiny living things that you cannot capture with the naked eye. This includes the many types of bacteria that live in your vagina. The vaginal microbiome is important when it comes to your feminine health, as slight imbalances can cause infections and other health conditions.
What bacteria are there in the vaginal microbiome?
The vaginal microbiome is undoubtedly unique. In the microbes found in the vagina, the most dominant type of bacteria is called Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus bacteria create lactic acid, which prevents pathogens and anaerobic bacteria from entering the vagina. Lactic acid is responsible for preventing the growth of pathogens and bacteria and spreading infections.
What causes imbalances in the vaginal microbiome?
Undoubtedly, the vagina is a sensitive and vulnerable place in a woman’s body. The vaginal microbiome can also be vulnerable to outer influences and go out of balance, causing the whole microbiome to go out of place. There are a few reasons why it can go out of balance.
- Sexual intercourse – The presence of semen in the vulva can easily cause an imbalance in the microbiome. Semen thrives in alkaline bases, and the acidic nature of the vagina will not serve them well. To avoid this, the vagina maintains the PH levels more alkaline during sex, which can cause a sudden imbalance in the microbes. Moreover, your partner can bring pathogens and harmful bacteria if sexual intercourse is done without protection.
- Sex toys – Uncleaned sex toys or sex toys cleaned with scented detergent can cause an imbalance in the microbiome.
- Douching – Douching means washing the inner canal of the vagina. This act may kill both “good” and “bad” microbes, throwing the whole microbiome out of balance.
- Medication – Using antibacterial kills both good and bad bacteria in your vaginal microbiome, making you more vulnerable to yeast infections.
- Lubricants – Some lubricants have a PH level higher than PH 5. This invites the rapid growth of bacteria that will cause infections.
What happens in the imbalances of the vaginal microbiome?
With an unbalanced microbiome and a PH level in your vagina, you are most likely to get infections. The common symptoms include,
- Itching in the vaginal area
- A strong odor that resembles the smell of fish or tuna
- Irritation around the vagina
- Swelling in the vaginal area
- Abnormal discharge that is gray or green in color
- Burning while you urinate
These are the common symptoms of the infections below.
- Bacterial vaginosis – Causes a gray discharge along with a fishy smell.
- Trichomoniasis – Caused by a sexually transmitted parasite. It is a common infection that results in a fishy smell as well as a greenish discharge.
- Yeast infection – Causes intense itchiness and white discharge.
How to keep the vaginal microbiome balanced?
You must be having this question by now. How to keep the microbiome in balance to avoid all kinds of nasty vaginal infections? To achieve this, you need to keep your PH levels in balance, too, as it is directly connected to the microbes in your vagina. There are a few tips to follow in order for you to keep the acidic nature of the vagina intact.
- Use condoms during sex – This helps you from contacting harmful pathogens and bacteria from the penis during sexual intercourse. This act will help you to keep the microbiome intact.
- Avoid douching – Douching may destroy both good and bad bacteria. Wash your vagina with warm water and avoid douching at all costs.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing – Loose-fitting clothes will aid air circulation, which will help you to avoid the risk of infections in the vagina.
- Use unscented sanitary pads/tampons – scented products are the enemy of all vaginas. Keep them away to maintain the PH levels.
- Proper hygiene – Wash your vagina with warm water to keep it hygienic and to keep the microbiome in balance.
Your vagina is acidic for a good reason. It not only protects your microbiome but also helps you from getting infections and harmful health conditions.