Your body’s pH balance refers to the level of acids and “bases” in your blood at which your body functions at its best. The scale runs from 0 to 14. A pH of less than 7 is considered acidic, and a pH of more than 7 is termed “basic”. Our skin is typically around 7, but our vaginas have a pH level between 3.8 and 4.4, which is moderately acidic.
To maintain vulvar and vaginal health, pH balance should be maintained. An imbalance could be an indication or cause of issues that could lead to itchiness or dryness. A balanced microbiome is also critical and the subject of another article.
Before we reach reproductive age and start menstruating, vaginal pH will be 7 (neutral). Once menstruations starts, the vaginal becomes more acidic, in the range of pH 3.8–4.4. At menopause, depending on whether or not a person undertakes hormone replacement therapy, their vaginal pH may be 4.5–5 or 6.5–7.
So why does vaginal pH matter? An acidic vaginal environment is protective. It creates a barrier that prevents unhealthy bacteria and yeast from multiplying too quickly and causing infection.
A high vaginal pH level — above 4.5 — provides the perfect environment for unhealthy bacteria to grow. Having a high vaginal pH puts you at risk for these infections:
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a bacterial overgrowth condition that causes a “fishy” odor, along with an unusual gray, white, or yellow vaginal discharge. It can also result in vaginal itchiness and burning during urination.
BV isn’t necessarily harmful in itself, but women who have this condition are at increased riskTrusted Source for more serious infections, like human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus, and HIV
During sex, the pH level inside the vagina temporarily rises, making the normally acidic environment more alkaline to protect the sperm so they can make their way to the egg. The optimal pH for them to swim is between 7.0 and 8.5. So, one thing to consider is that regular sex without a condom might alter the pH balance, possibly leading to dryness and itchiness.
Taking antibiotics can cause a pH imbalance, as can douching. Menstrual blood has a more basic pH than the vagina and, when absorbed into a tampon that resides in place for a while, can alter the vagina’s pH.
“Maintaining your vaginal pH is the ultimate acid trip”- Your Friend, Violet