Blog: General

In the 1980s and 90s it was the deodorant salesman's catch phrase, "pH balanced!" Brands like Secret taught us that "a woman's perspiration is different from a man's," and that she needs a special deodorant that's "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." Marketers for Secret deodorant took it upon themselves to create awareness around the concept of pH balance. Remember the pH test in high school biology? You took those little litmus papers and dipped them in various solvents to see what color they changed, matched them to a color on the pH scale and determined each solution's pH value in a range of 1 to 14. Well that's essentially what they did in this 1985 Secret commercial to demonstrate the difference in pH levels between male and female perspiration.

In fact, the body has many different pH levels, depending what organs and systems you're talking about. For example, the gastric acid in your stomach has a low pH (acidic) between 1 and 2, which aids digestion of food, whereas the pH of blood is slightly basic at around 7.4. Your body's organs and systems are constantly maintaining these levels of acidity or alkaline.

A woman's normal vaginal pH is acidic and ranges from a pH of 3.5 to 4.5. However, during menses, blood present in the menstrual fluid paired with hormonal changes in the vaginal tissues raise the vagina's pH.

The normal environment of the vagina contains "good" bacteria and "bad" bacteria. When the levels of good and bad bacteria are balanced, you have a normal, healthy vagina. However, when an imbalance results in more bad bacteria than good, you can develop irritation, odor, and infections such as Bacterial Vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection for menstruating women. The vagina's normal pH range of 3.5 to 4.5 helps to maintain the balance of these good and bad bacteria. Therefore, pH-balance is an important factor in vaginal health.

Blood has a pH of 7.4, so during your period your vaginal pH becomes elevated by the presence menstrual fluids. Tampons can contribute to an elevated pH since they absorb and retain the fluids that cause pH to increase. Furthermore, chemicals present in some tampons may also affect pH levels in the vaginal environment. The fluctuation in pH during menstruation is part of the reason why many women who suffer from recurrent vaginal infections find that their period is often the trigger.

Common pH triggers that make the vagina more susceptible to infection include:

  • Blood
  • Tampons that absorb menstrual fluids for an extended period of time
  • Sex
  • Douching without balancing pH afterwards, douching with fragrances, scented soap and hot tubs
  • Feminine products that contain deodorants
  • Hormone fluctuations such as during menopause or pregnancy

Knowledge about the role tampons play in elevating vaginal pH during menses is leading many women to seek alternatives to conventional menstrual management. Many women are also choosing to switch to menstrual cups, such as Softcup. Softcup does not alter the natural environment of the vagina. If in fact ingredients in tampons are contributing to pH changes in the vagina, the Softcup may be a favorable alternative because testing has shown that Softcup is made of inert materials that do not to affect vaginal flora.

Doctors have found a clear link between vaginal pH and infection; now it is up to consumers to use that knowledge in making informed decisions about their feminine hygiene.

Comments

my ph balance is off and i do not have a yeast infection or a STD the doctor said my ph balance is off so what can i do to get that under control. My boyfriend notice that i have the odor. My eating habits are bad. help

Have you tried using a menstrual cup instead of tampons during your period? Menstrual cups do not alter the pH of the vagina like tampons can. Another way to help balance the good and bad bacteria in the vagina is to eat probiotic foods such as yogurt.

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I recently had some discomfort, itching, burning, strange discharge so I decided to take a vagisil ph screening kit. My ph levels are normal and my symptoms have been subsiding throughout the day. Should I still consult a physician and how accurate do u believe these ph tests are?

Stop eating a lot of sugar, this lowers your ph and can cause the issues you are talking about as well as giving you yeast infections which can lead to painful intercourse

hey there. try only eating lean meats (lamb, chicken, liver, sirloin, etc) or fish (salmon is a great choice) and veggies for a week (no sugar, no alcohol, no bread... i know, it sux).

see if you see a difference :) . you probably will after a day or two!!!!

also. ive noticed that douching with 1/8 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide is a great "reset" button for the vag. It doesn't last very long, maybe 6hrs at the most but it works for the time it works. (ive done it and my vag is fine)

"reset" the vag that night and the next day adhere to the food change I mentioned.

*I think food intake and vaginal ph might go hand in hand unfortunately.

I have foul order an I've never had sex I'm still a virgin but this happens after every period. Any help?

During your period, the pH level of your vagina is altered by the presence of menstrual fluid, and this can sometimes throw off the balance of good and bad bacteria. Some women experience recurring infections after their period due to this change in pH. You should consult your doctor about your symptoms to see if you do in fact have an infection. Your doctor may suggest some steps to mitigate this occurance, such as propiotic supplements, pH balancing vaginal products, or antibiotics. Tampons, since they absorb menstrual fluid and hold it in the vagina, may contribute to the rise of pH level during your period. You may want to try other options, like Softcup or another menstrual cup, and see if it makes a difference.

I have suffered from chronic bv after every monthly cycle for years. I dont use tampons so does sanitary napkins change the ph balance? If so, im very interested in trying the soft cup.

In fact, it's the menstrual blood that alters the vagina's pH. It's difficult to say whether a sanitary napkin would encourage this rise in pH by holding the blood close to the vagina. You may simply want to give Softcup a try to see if it helps with the issue. Softcup does not alter the pH of the vagina.

I took a ph test and it indicated that my ph balance is between 6 and 6.5 im about to get my period in 2 days i usually start spotting right now and i did yesterday but not today the day of the test is this normal

Normal vaginal pH ranges from 3.5 to 4.5. The pH of blood is around 7.4, so during your menstrual cycle the presence of menstrual fluid can raise your vagina's pH. If you are not having any unusual symptoms such as strong odor or discharge, then it may simply be due to the spotting. But if you have any concern you should check with your doctor to rule out infection.

I continue to get bv is it something im doing or not doing. Its annoying embarrassing, and expensive to keep going to the Dr. for scripts of flagl

It's hard to say what the cause of your recurring BV could be. Here are some things you may want to try: eliminate the use of fragranced soaps or feminine deodorants, don't douche, try using a menstrual cup instead of tampons or pads.

I have been suffering from bv an yeast infections for the past 5 mths.Im sonervous and scared this is the first time this has happened to me.I have took meds for bv and cream for the yeast.I jus dont know what to do can u please ease my mind and tell me what may be going on

With each episode, have you received a diagnosis from your medical provider?  Sometimes you can have simple irritation or even an allergic type of reaction that can cause similar symptoms.

I have had patients who have cycles between BV and yeast infections because either the antibiotics kill off the bacteria in BV or the fungal organism in yeast infections, throwing off the balance between the two and causing the overgrowth of the other. In other words the treatment overshoots the healthy balance and you then end up swinging back and forth.  

I would suggest trying an product called Refresh. This is a suppository that helps to re-establish the natural pH of the vagina. Also taking probiotics may help too. If you haven't sought medical attention for this, I would recommend that you do that so you are sure you are treating it properly.

-Dr. Christine Ko

I started having problems with BV about 6 months ago. I had no clue of what was going on I had this bad odor that I could not stand, so I went to my GYN she said that a lot of women have BV and it is caused by an unbalance of the PH levels. I was taking the pill at first for the problem. I would take it for a week and the next month it was the same issue all over again now I put a gel in the vagina that is called metrogel I do that twice a week and the odor is all gone. There is not a cure for it. It will continue to come back so ladies ask your doctor for Metrogel and you can have it when ever the symptoms return. I tried the soft cup also and it is MESSY! I will not use them again.

Well I had sex one day then the next day , but a couple of days later there waa an odor . Is that normal or what , because it'll come and go . Please help me out because im only 19 .

Sometimes the fluids from sex can change the odor of the vagina along with its pH. If the odor seems to go away after several hours or after you shower, then you may not need to worry. If the odor persists for a couple of days, see your doctor to rule out an infection.

Vagisil anti-itch medicated wipes will help with the oder and will give you a fresh, relief feeling and will help your Ph balance. Vagisil wipes will get rid of that problem fast! Good luck :D

I'm a virgin never did anything but every time my period goes off I have an irritation in my vagina and if I itch it to much it begins to burn please help I don't know what it is

It could be vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. Check with your doctor (or ask a pharmacist) next time you experience these symptoms. You'll need a proper diagnosis to find out how to effectively treat the symptoms.

I havent had my period since late may...and i am sexually active but i havent been with my boyfriend since then...but i know im not pregnant i have taken multiple pregnancy tests...so could this have to do woth my ph balance??? Please help!

It is very unlikely that pH imbalance has anything to do with your irregular menstrual cycle. Other factors that could affect your cycle include stress, weight gain or loss, hormonal changes, illness, or pregnancy. If you're sure you're not pregnant (most tests will not give an accurate result too early on, so make sure you follow the test instructions), then you may want to check with your doctor if you are concerned.

I went to the Dr. today for a papsmere they did a urinalysis test & my pH level was 7, the Dr. said my tests were fine. I researched this & realized it is above the normal pH level for a women. Should I be concerned?

The normal vaginal environment is acidic, with a pH of between 3.5 and 4.5. However, during menstruation, since blood is present and has a pH of about 7, the vagina's overall pH may rise. Usually this is temporary a temporary rise until the menstrual period has ended. If you don't have any adverse symptoms such as foul odor or discharge, you shouldn't worry. If you have any unusual symptoms that persist for several days, then you may want to consider a pH-balancing product or discuss options with you doctor.

quite a few months ago i got a yeast infection, but went to the doctors and got the meds for it and got over it.. i always used Vagisil Odor Blockage and Prevention wash, non scented.. it worked really well.. then, just a week ago i think, i decided to try Summers Eve, which is scented or has a "deodorant".. and now i have a chunky white discharge just like a yeast infection, its not even close to how much discharge i had with my yeast infection, doesnt smell like it did with my yeast infection. but i itch as well, and it is a slight discomfort, not as bad as my yeast infection was though.. i read it could be the "deodorant" in the Summers Eve wash, could i be one of those women that has to have non scented washes? if so, should i switch back right away and see what happens? because i have NEVER had this experience with the Vagisil i used.

It is recommended not to use vaginal washes with a scent or deodorant, as these can potentially cause irritation.

my question is if you have an elevated ph level or even have a lower ph level can that alter the results of a pregancy test because i will take one and it would be a faint line and a normal line then on another test that i took there was no results im, CONFUSED!!!

Urine pregnancy test (UPT) detects the presence of a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadatropin (HCG). To my knowledge the UPT result is not effected by the pH of the urine. If you are referring to vaginal pH, the urine does not come in direct contact with the vagina so it should have no effect on the urine pH.

First off, I want to say that periods have been SO much easier to manage and way less worrisome since I switched to Softcups a few months ago. Wish I would've tried these earlier! I am currently being treated for a yeast infection, but have just started my period. I work in a warehouse that is hot and requires a lot of movement. I know not to use tampons anymore, but pads are totally out of the question while I'm working. Are Softcups safe to use while being treated for a yeast infection? If it helps, I am taking the one time dosage pill (twice) to get rid of it since I am on my period, so no cream usage or anything.

 

If you have symptoms of, or are being treated for, vaginal yeast or bacterial infection or a UTI, we recommend that you discontinue use of Softcup until the symptoms or treatment(s) have ended. This is unless your physician recommends otherwise.

I have historically had very predictable menstrual cycles, and been on the pill for 9 years. I recently switched to Lo Loestrin Fe. I just started on my 3rd pack and had a slight change in period. Its a little lighter and not so predictable. My issue is, I used a pH kit and my pH is around 5-5.5 I believe. But I took the test just before my cycle was to come...but it never came even though I was cramping. I tested again a week after and its still 5-5.5. Any reason why it would still be elevated? Is it the new birth control? I have no burning, itching, foul odor or unusual discharge. Just heavier discharge.

"I have historically had very predictable menstrual cycles, and been on the pill for 9 years. I recently switched to Lo Loestrin Fe....  ... Just heavier discharge."

Dear Anonymous,

These changes are probably due to the hormone effect from the birth control pill. Birth control pills typically use a combination of estrogen and progesterone but the type of estrogen and progesterone varies. The different type of hormone may have varying effects one each individual. Increased vaginal discharge is a common side effect. If it is not causing any other symptoms then I would not be concerned about infection. Elevated pH is associated with BV but is not the cause.

Can your vaginas ph balance keep me from conceiving?

We are not aware of any reason that vaginal pH would keep you from conceiving.

So for the past year I have been getting an odoress discharge out of the vagina. I have been to embarrassed to go to the doctor but want to know if I should be concerned.

If you are concerned, then you should talk to your doctor. There is no reason to be embarrassed; doctors are very comfortable with discussing these issues with their patients. Vaginal infections are very common, and most women will experience one or more infections; in fact, some women deal with vaginal infection on a monthly basis. At the least, talking to your doctor will help put your mind at ease.

Does the ph balance affect the color of the vagina?

"Does the ph balance affect the color of the vagina?"

No, but different types of infections may be associated with different types of discharge including color.

Ladies, please google and read about alkaline foods and how they affect the PH balance in our bodies. Eating alkaline foods and also staying away from sugar, grains and dairy when this happens will make it go away by getting the PH of our bodies back in balance. It's taken me much research to find out what the root problem is and treat the problem not just the symptoms.I just hope what I've learned can help someone else.

Different parts of our bodies have different natural pH levels. For instance, blood has a pH of around 7 while the vagina's natural pH ranges from 3.5 to 4.5. Stomach acid has an even lower pH. So there is no measure of total body pH balance, but rather a measure of whether a particular organ or system is within its optimal pH range.

Ok I'm well aware abt ph balance so on & so forth! My ph is never elevated! But the only time I get vaginitis is after sex! My boyfriend & I have been together for 3 yrs! So of course were not using condoms! I'm not on any birth controls! It's extremely embarrassing tht I'm treating myself for this chronic reoccurrence!! Even as I'm vaginitis free I have a very thick pasty discharge I cnt seem to get rid of! All my std & vaginitis test are negative when I'm tested.. Until I have sex again, then my vagina is full of discharge plus what was already there!! Ugh! Someday my boyfriend & I wld like to have kids.. But how when I cnt have sex using no condom without gettin bacteria vaginitis!?? Is there no cure for this???? My obgyn keeps givin me antibiotics but to my knowledge tht can harm good bacteria &soon I'll b immune to the medication from takin it do much!! What to do what to do??

If the males ph balance is 7 or more.. Causing the imbalance in a women's ph when it's perfectly normal.. What can we do to alter the ph levels of a mans semen.. So tht this is not a reoccurring problem for us females! Not being able to enjoy having sex with my boyfriend brings stress to our relationship because I'm constantly being treated! We wanna have kids but it's not going to happen if we're using condoms to prevent my problem! No obgyn takes further steps to try to stop this for good! Instead they keep givin u a lecture abt how to maintain a low ph, what to what not to wear & antibiotics thts only harming my body rather than fixing my body!! PLEASE I NEED ANSWERS!!!

Does an overactive thyroid have anything to do with high or low ph levels?

Does an overactive thyroid have anything to do with high or low ph levels of the vagina due to the fact thyroids controls hormones as well as metabolism ?

Our medical expert is not aware of any medical literature that supports a direct association between thyroid disorder and vaginal pH. But it's an interesting thought.

could low ph levels cause painful intercourse?? it is also painful to wear tampons.

The answer is no, low pH levels would not cause painful intercourse. Pain with tampon use may be due to irritation from the tampon (i.e dryness or reaction to the tampon material or chemicals used in the manufacturing process), or from improper placement of the tampon. If this is the case, Softcup would be a good option for you. One other possibility could be a tight introitus (entrance to the vagina).

I have some odd white kind of think stuff thats comes out of my lower area and it does not have a smell, and it doesnt burn when i pee, so i do not believe its a UTI , i am sexual active but he was tested and he was my first so i know its not a disease, i was thinking it could be this but im not sure are there any other suggestions on what it could be ? i have an appointment next month at my doctors for a physicall so if i dont figure it out by then i will be telling them at that appointment,

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