In this article, we will talk about the pH level of the vagina and the factors that upset its balance.
What are normal vaginal pH levels?
A pH below 7 is acidic, while a pH above 7 is basic. A normal vaginal pH is usually less than 4.5. The lower the number, the more acidic the vaginal environment will be.
Lactobacilli bacteria live in the vagina and secrete lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which give the vagina its acidic pH level.
What changes vaginal pH?
Several conditions and infections can affect the vaginal pH balance, usually by increasing pH levels.
Causes of changes in vaginal pH include the following:
Bacterial vaginosis is a medical condition that occurs when too much bacteria is present in the vagina. This can cause an increase in vaginal pH levels.
A person with bacterial vaginosis may experience itching, burning, or pain in the vagina. They may also feel a burning sensation when urinating and notice a white or gray discharge.
Douching refers to washing or cleaning the vagina using particular solutions, such as those containing vinegar or baking soda.
These solutions claim to reduce vaginal odor, but, in fact, they may worsen the smell. This is because they wash out good bacteria, which affects the vaginal pH balance and can make someone more prone to infections.
One studyTrusted Source found that women tend to have higher pH levels during menopause. In the study, women in menopause had an average vaginal pH of 5.3.
Reduced estrogen levels during menopause may affect a person’s vaginal pH.
Other vaginal infections:
The presence of infections other than bacterial vaginosis may also increase the vaginal pH.
Blood has a higher pH than the vaginal environment. When a person is menstruating, the presence of menstrual blood can increase vaginal pH levels
People use antibiotics to kill harmful bacteria, but these medications can kill good bacteria as well. This will include bacteria in the vagina. If a person is taking antibiotics, their vaginal pH may be out of balance.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs):
UTIs do not cause a higher vaginal pH, but having a high pH can increase a person’s risk of developing a UTI.
Reduced estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause can put a person at risk of developing more frequent UTIs, as lower estrogen allows the vaginal pH to rise.
Doctors may prescribe estrogen treatments to lower the vaginal pH and prevent further UTIs.