The term ‘ pH balance’ sounds scientific and scary. We promise you that it isn’t. We’re here to break it down for you because we believe knowledge is power. Below, we unpack what it means to have a ‘normal’ pH level, the ‘balance disruptors’ to watch out for and how products and diet can have a positive impact on keeping a healthy, happy vagina.
What is a ‘normal’ vaginal pH level?
The term pH i s used to describe the acidity level i n our body. A normal or balanced vaginal pH level sits between 3.8 and 4.5, which is moderately acidic (keep in mind that a "normal" pH level can vary slightly, based on your age and hormone levels). While our bodies work naturally to maintain a ' normal' (again we use that word lightly) pH balance between 6.2 and 7.6.
What happens when your vagina pH level is not balanced?
An acidic vaginal environment (that means, one that has ‘normal’ pH level) i s protective. It creates a barrier that prevents unhealthy bacteria and yeast from multiplying too quickly and causing irritation / infection. It's important for us to recognise the incredible work our lady bits do to regulate themselves, but we can do things to both hinder and aid this process.
If your vaginal pH is out of whack, it can lead to all sorts of uncomfortable issues, bacterial infections, painful sex, bad smells, itching and burning, and that's just scratching the surface.
The main things to watch out for:
Wearing sweaty, tight clothes for extended periods.
Yep, this might mean skipping your post-spin class coffee and heading straight home to peel off those sweaty tights.
Using scented products to wash the vulva that aren't pH balanced.
This one seems pretty simple, but you'd be surprised how many women —and especially teenagers — reach for any bottle sitting at the bottom of the shower and lather that on their lady bush without thinking.
Eating processed food and excessive sugar.
This just another reason to get those nasties out of your diet.
Leaving tampons, pads or period cups in for too long.
The reason being is that menstrual blood has a pH level of around 7, so it's best to change these things more often than not, or leakage won't be your only problem.
If you're a vulva owner having sex with a penis owner, we've got news for you. Semen is higher than the pH levels of vaginas, which can mess with the growth of healthy bacteria or ‘vaginal flora’. There are steps you can take to avoid a messy, itchy, or smelly situation. The first one i s to use condoms to ensure no semen gets introduced to the vaginal canal. If that's not an option, the second one i s a post-sex wee i n order flush some of that semen out. Same goes for lube. Make sure you double check those formulations for pH levels, ladies!
Products that can help you keep a healthy pH
- When it comes to sex, lube is an essential factor. Without it – and if not naturally lubricated enough – the friction can cause dryness, chaffing and pain. We love Dame Alu Organic. It's Aloe-based, organic, water-based formulation i s pH balanced and super hydrating. Another one to keep your eye out for i s Melbourne based company FIGR, these girls, have been causing quite the stir on instagram and we can’t wait to see what they bring to the sector.
- Wash using natural and plant-based formulations and avoid harsh chemicals and perfumes that will upset your pH and acidity levels. Our pH balanced, fragrance-free and plant-based intimate Refresh Daily Wash is the perfect option. It's luxurious, self-foaming formula will l eave you feeling fresh and hydrated all day long.
- Swap out your standard tampons and pads for an organic option, period cup or period undies. Studies have shown non-organic cotton used in regular tampons can contain trace amounts of the pesticides, herbicides and glyphosate. While a link to adverse health effects has not yet been established, these cotton options are likely better for you and far better for the planet. Our favourite one-stop shop i s Tom Organic.
FIGspiration on how to main a healthy pH level through diet
1. Probiotics: eating your probiotics has the best effect on the body! Think all things fermented such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha. Another one i s yogurt. It’s full of vitamin D and has loads of beneficial bacterial species called Lactobacillus.
2. Leafy greens: greens such as kale, spinach and romaine lettuce. These all naturally alkalise the body which is suggested to aid with vaginal dryness by increasing blood stimulation.
3. Omega 3s: you can get this from eating lots of fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines) but if that's not your thing you can also take a supplement.
4. Plant fats: snack on nuts, flax seeds, and avocados throughout the day as research shows these plant-based fats all help to balance women's hormone levels.
5. Fruit, fruit and more fruit: berries are high i n antioxidants and vitamin C which help to remove free radicals from the body. This in turn helps to keep your vulva and vaginal feeling its absolute best.