By: Sydney Levine
Ahh back again with another “balance” post … in the balance series so far, we’ve covered balance in our work/social lives, workout routines, and our nutritional habits. Just as it is important to have balance in these aspects of your life, there is also balance that must be achieved within your physical body. Your body works hard to maintain a balanced internal state. In biology there is a term to describe this type of balance – homeostasis, it is a state of equilibrium or balance between interdependent elements within your body (What Is Homeostasis?, 2020). Part of this balance includes maintaining the right pH levels. Now, it’s 2021 and it’s time to talk about our vaginas. Vaginal health should be made just as aware as any other health aspect – whether it be gut, skin, heart, etc. Talking with friends and other women, I’ve realized that a lot of us do not have an awareness of what our vaginas are trying to signal to us or what certain signs may mean for our health.
Just like virtually any other system in our bodies, our vaginas like to maintain a particular pH level. If you are unfamiliar, pH ranges from a scale of 0 to 14, where the lower end of the spectrum means acidic and the higher end more alkaline. A healthy vagina has a pH between 3.5 and 4.5, making it slightly acidic (Everything You Need to Know about Maintaining Your Vaginal Ph Balance, 2017). But why does our vaginal pH matter? The pH level of your vagina is a form of protection against the growth of harmful bacteria (Everything You Need to Know about Maintaining Your Vaginal Ph Balance, 2017). A lot of things have the potential to affect your pH levels, and when it is out of balance it can potentially lead to bacterial and yeast infections, an increased risk in contracting STIs, and even reduce fertility (Vaginal pH balance: Normal levels and natural remedies, 2018).
What causes an unbalanced pH level in the vagina?
Some factors that have the potential to throw this balance off is…
· Unprotected sex
· Our periods
· Unnecessary washing
Our vaginas have signs to tell us that something may be wrong. These include…
· Irregular discharge
It can be scary when we don’t know what is happening to our bodies, which is why we have to learn, listen, and watch out for the signs it gives us. The good news is, when our pH levels are thrown off there are remedies to correct it! Some of which are even natural remedies. In order to help restore a normal pH level try these things.
· Take probiotics – Probiotics consist of good bacteria that naturally occur in your body. When we have an imbalance in good vs. bad bacteria in our bodies, taking probiotic supplements or eating foods rich in probiotics can help restore the good bacteria our bodies need (Probiotics, 2020.). Probiotics can be taken as supplements or can be found naturally in certain fermented foods like yogurt and kombucha (11 Probiotic Foods That Are Super Healthy, 2018). Probiotics contain good bacteria called “lactobacilli” that are abundant in a healthy vagina (Natural Remedies to Restore Vaginal Ph Balance, 2020).
· Avoid unnecessary washing – Our vaginas are self-cleaning and applying heavily fragrant body washes to this area can contribute to rises in pH (Everything You Need to Know about Maintaining Your Vaginal Ph Balance, 2017).
· Eat a healthy diet – Excessive sugar and processed foods can affect pH levels in the body.
· Destress – As we all know, stress has the potential to affect several aspects of our mind and body, this includes the health and state of our vaginas (Everything You Need to Know about Maintaining Your Vaginal Ph Balance, 2017). So, try to take time to do things that help you destress and put your mind and body at ease.
· Use protection during sex.
It can be weird and sometimes strange to talk about our vaginas, but part of living a healthy life is having a healthy body…one where all our systems, organs, and body parts are working correctly. The more we start talking about women’s health the more we, as women, can be aware of the signs and symptoms that may arise.
11 probiotic foods that are super healthy. (2018, August 28). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-super-healthy-probiotic-foods
Everything you need to know about maintaining your vaginal ph balance. (2017, December 22). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/vaginal-ph-balance
Natural remedies to restore vaginal ph balance. (2020, September 28). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/natural-remedies-to-restore-ph-balance
Probiotics: What is it, benefits, side effects, food & types. (2020). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved February 15, 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics
Vaginal ph balance: Normal levels and natural remedies. (2018, July). Retrieved February 15, ` 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322537#natural-remedies
Vaginal pH Balance: Why it’s Important for your Health. (2019, August 2). Rory. https://www.hellorory.com/roar/vaginal-ph-balance-why-its-important-for-your-health/What is Homeostasis? (2000). Scientific American. Retrieved February 16, 2021, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-homeostasis/