By Michael Krychman, MD FACOG
A well-balanced acidic vagina has an abundant amount of beneficial bacteria (normal vaginal flora) that supports and protects against infection. The balance between the good and bad bacteria is maintained on the acidic playing field. If the pH is altered by any fashion, the battlefield changes dramatically and potentially harmful flora – or irritation causing bacteria – will flourish and cause symptoms such as irritation, foul smelling discharge and/or itchiness. The overgrowth can lead to painful sex and sore raw vaginal tissues! At high pH values a woman may experience vaginitis, or redness and inflammation of the vaginal lining or mucosa. Genital Infections such as Candida (yeast) and Gardnerella Vaginosis (Bacterial Vaginosis) are then not uncommon.
There are certain times in a woman’s lifecycle when her vaginal environmental and pH may be altered. These changes may predispose her to painful infections.
Monthly menstrual cycles may cause some vaginal sensitivity as blood typically has an elevated pH (7.4). Some women may report more vaginal sensitivities around their period, and some are prone to more vaginal infections at this time. Tampons (designed to absorb blood and the good/bad bacteria) can also change the vaginal pH. With vaginal intercourse, ejaculate within the vagina exposes the vagina to male semen which typically has very elevated pH at 7.1 to 8. Some women can avoid post sex vaginal irritation and changes in the environment with the consistent use of condoms.
Some women still use over-the-counter vinegar-based douches since they falsely think this will help cleanse and deodorize. In fact, using a douche with vinegar is rather caustic to the vagina since most douches have pH of 2.9. Many over the counter “sensitive” “intimate” or other cleansing soaps have abnormal pH within the range of 7-14. Harsh soaps on the vagina should be avoided since they affect a healthy pH balance. Lubrigyn products are pH balanced and safe for comfortable, helpful use.
At certain times during a woman’s life, (breastfeeding, menopause or when she is taking antihistamines or oral contraceptives) she may experience a decrease in her estrogen levels and present with vaginal dryness or atrophy. The vaginal pH is altered, the vagina may become less elastic, less pliable and even may feel like sandpaper. It’s not uncommon for women to complain of severe pain during intercourse (dyspareunia) due to lack of normal lubrication. Some women believe that certain foods and drinks can impact the genital flora. Many health advocates also stress the avoidance of excessive tea carbonated soft drinks, coffee and junk food. Processed food with a lot of salty preservatives may also negatively impact the vagina. Focus on healthy colorful fruits, yogurt, vegetables, and keep well hydrated.
Take good care of your vagina. Maintaining a balanced pH is the key to vaginal health. Choose products carefully and read labels. The special properties of Lubrigyn® products work synergistically in order to clean, hydrate and provide lubricity, and may act as a natural deodorizer. Lubrigyn® creams preserve and protect the natural acidity of the vaginal pH.A happy vagina is a pH-balanced vagina! Bottom line: The vaginal pH helps maintain the health of the vaginal mucosal lining.