Vaginal pH is probably something that you don’t think about too often unless you have frequent yeast infections, urinary tract infections, or have experienced fertility issues.
pH is a marker of acidity or alkalinity within the vaginal canale, and can be tested by simply swabbing the vagina with Vaginal pH test strips, which you can purchase from your local pharmacy. I want to specifically go into why this pH balance is important for your fertility, what types of pH issues you can experience, and what you can do about them.
But first, the deets…
Vaginal pH is usually self-regulating, maintaining a pH between 3.8-4.5 (except for ovulation and menses where it becomes more alkaline). This naturally acidic environment forms a natural barrier to microbes such as those which cause Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) and Candidiasis (yeast infections). The fluctuations in vaginal pH are very delicate, and are extremely important when it comes to fertility.
Our body works in miraculous ways. The natural acidic environment of the vagina can actually harm sperm, and so during ovulation our body’s vaginal pH naturally becomes more alkaline and increases cervical mucous. The cervical mucous increase along with the more alkaline environment allows sperm to survive. However, if your pH becomes too alkaline, this will create an environment where BV and Yeast can thrive.
It’s important to note that
Yeast Infections and Bacterial Vaginosis can
pass from partner to partner.
So if you have experienced multiple chronic infections, you may want to have your partner tested. In addition, chronic Bacterial Vaginosis can lead to other complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and complications in pregnancy so you will want to treat this as soon as possible.
Symptoms of a PH imbalance
- Chronic yeast infections
- Bacterial Vaginosis diagnosis
- Vaginal odour (‘fishy’ scent)
- Increase in vaginal discharge (usually thick)
- Vaginal itching and redness around the vulva
Causes of pH imbalances
- DIET – Your diet is essential in keeping the delicate balance of vaginal pH optimal. Eating a diet that is too high in acidic-forming foods such as citrus, dairy, wheat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, processed foods, and tobacco will cause the body and subsequently the vagina to become more acidic.
SOLUTION – Eat a diet that is high in fruit and vegetables, especially greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, chorella, spirulina)
- LIFESTYLE – Vaginal Douching, vaginal hygiene after intercourse, and certain sexual activities (many vaginal lubricants, flavoured condom use) can affect the pH imbalance.
SOLUTION – Avoid douching and cleanse with natural soaps such as Dr. Bronner, always urinate or cleanse after intercourse, use natural and fertility friendly lubricants such as Pre-Seed, and avoid using ribbed or flavoured condoms.
- DEHYDRATION – Dehydration will lead to an overall acidic environment. When dehydrated, the body has a difficult time producing extra cervical mucous during ovulation which is critical for fertility and the survival of sperm.
SOLUTION – Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day (1-2L).
- STRESS + TOXIN EXPOSURE
SOLUTION – Try adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha and liver cleansing herbs such as Dandelion or Milk Thistle.
- LACK OF HEALTHY MICROFLORA – The vagina harbours friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus, which acts as a first line of defense against negative microbes. Unfortunately the use of antibiotics will also kill off all these wonderful bacteria, cause a more alkaline environment, and create an environment for bad bacteria and yeast to thrive.
SOLUTION – Replenish vaginal flora using FloraSAP by NFH, and eat more cultured foods such as Kefir, Sauerkraut, and cultured vegetables.
- SPERM – Yes, although we want and need sperm for conception to happen, sperm is naturally alkaline and can cause a more alkaline environment of the vagina. You will know if this is happening to you if you experience yeast or bacterial vaginosis symptoms such as itching, odour or irritation after intercourse.
SOLUTION – Immune support, natural anti-inflammatories, vaginal probiotics, cleanse after intercourse with a natural soap
- AGING AND/OR ESTROGEN DEFICIENCY – As estrogen drops, so does pH and the vaginal tissues will become thin and irritated.
SOLUTION – Try phytoestrogenic herbs such as Black Cohosh, Wild Yam, Red Clover and Royal Jelly.
If you have been experiencing chronic vaginal infections or aren’t sure why you haven’t been conceiving, consider testing your vaginal pH.