Do you remember the lesson from science class about how the pH of something determines how acidic or basic it is? While you may not go around thinking about the pH of many things, you might want to start thinking about your vagina’s pH balance.

Keeping your body in balance plays an important role in keeping your vagina healthy and avoiding infections, like vaginitis and vulvitis. But knowing how to keep your vagina’s natural balance can be tricky.

Dr. Donna Hagberg and the caring team at Donna J. Hagberg, MD, LLC, in Cos Cob, Connecticut, put prevention at the core of your healthcare, helping you avoid gynecological conditions and infections. That’s why we put together this helpful guide with tips for keeping your body in balance to prevent vaginitis and vulvitis.

What are vaginitis and vulvitis?

Vaginitis and vulvitis are both common gynecological inflammations. Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina, while vulvitis is an inflammation of the vulva, the soft folds of skin outside the vagina.

Symptoms of both include abnormal discharge, itching, pain during intercourse, swelling, and pain during urination. Since both vaginitis and vulvitis can look like other conditions, it’s important to talk to Dr. Hagberg before starting treatment.

How does balance impact the health of my vagina?

How acidic or basic your vagina is has a tremendous impact on your vaginal health. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. A pH lower than 7 is considered acidic, and a pH higher than 7 is considered basic.

A healthy vagina has a pH range of 3.8 to 4.5, with variations based on age and where you are in your cycle. This acidic environment protects your vagina by stopping unhealthy bacteria and yeast from growing or multiplying too quickly.

When your vaginal pH gets too high (over 4.5), you lose the natural acidic protection making it easier for the bacteria and yeast that cause vaginitis and vulvitis to grow. Your period can trigger an increased pH as can unprotected sex, douching, menopause, certain infections, and antibiotics.

What can I do to keep my body in balance?

Avoiding things that change your body’s natural balance or cause irritation is the best way to keep your vagina healthy. Try the following tips to keep your body balanced and your vagina infection-free.

Change tampons frequently

Menstrual blood is slightly basic, and when it sits in the vagina in a tampon for too long it can raise the natural pH. Change tampons frequently to avoid increasing your risk of infections, like vaginitis and vulvitis.

Use condoms

Semen and other fluids can raise your vagina’s natural pH, increasing the risk of infections. Use condoms or other barrier protection methods to protect against STDs and vaginitis.

Take (or eat!) probiotics

Taking a probiotic can restore the balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina. You can also eat probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kefir, to keep good bacteria boosted.

Maintain a healthy diet

Having a balanced and nutritious diet is important. You want to eat vegetables and fruit while avoiding processed foods. You also want to drink lots of water is to maintain good vaginal and reproductive health.

Never douche

If you notice a foul or abnormal smell or abnormal discharge, schedule an appointment with Dr. Hagberg. Douching masks symptoms and could make the problem worse as it increases your natural pH.

Avoid products with irritants and perfumes

Perfumed products irritate the sensitive skin of the vulva and create problems with vaginal balance. Avoid scented tampons, vaginal deodorants, and similar products.

Wear breathable garments

Wear natural fabrics, like cotton, which allow air to circulate around the vagina. Avoid tight pants, like leggings, that doesn’t have a breathable crotch.

Don’t stay in wet clothes or bathing suits

The chlorine in pools and hot tubs can irritate the vulva, and yeast and bacteria love warm, moist environments, increasing the risk of vaginitis. Change out of wet clothes or bathing suits quickly.

Keep your vagina clean

Be sure to wipe properly to keep bacteria from fecal matter out of the vagina to prevent infections.

See your gynecologist regularly

Annual exams give you a chance to discuss any ongoing issues with Dr. Hagberg and learn how to prevent other conditions from arising.

Do you want to learn more about how to keep your body in balance? Do you think you could be suffering from vaginitis or vulvitis? Contact our office today!