The vagina does more than just exist. It contains a complex environment that usually keeps itself balanced and healthy. However, many factors can alter this balance, leading to changes in the vagina that cause irritation and discomfort. The root cause of these symptoms is usually an altered vaginal pH.
What is Vaginal pH, and Why is it Important?
Vaginal pH is a measure of acidity inside the vagina. A neutral pH is 7, and a normal vaginal pH ranges from 3.8 to 5.0. These low numbers make the vagina moderately acidic. Your vagina has an acidic environment due to its numerous residents, lactobacillus bacteria. These bacteria consume cells shed from your vaginal tissue and produce lactic acid.
Under normal circumstances, these bacteria create an acidic pH that makes the vagina an unfavorable location for other bacteria and yeasts, which can only exist at low levels. A consistently acidic vaginal pH usually prevents other organisms from upsetting the vaginal balance.
How Can You Balance Your Vaginal pH?
A healthy vagina is a self-maintaining ecosystem that balances its own pH. However, many factors can upset this system and wreak havoc on your vaginal health. Maintaining a healthy lactobacillus population is the best way to keep your vaginal pH in the normal range. Factors that raise the vagina’s pH include:
- Menstrual blood
- Tampon use
Lactobacillus bacteria thrive in the acidic environment they create. Other microorganisms can rapidly expand their populations when lactobacillus decline or the pH increases (becomes less acidic). These bacteria and yeasts produce a variety of byproducts that enter the vaginal secretions and begin to irritate the tissues.
What are the Symptoms of Vaginal pH Imbalance?
If your vaginal pH rises above normal levels, you can experience an overgrowth of problematic yeasts and bacteria. You will become aware of the problem when their byproducts alter your vaginal secretions, causing them to become irritating and even damaging to the vagina, vulva, and other tissues. Common symptoms include:
- Itching, burning, or stinging
- Soreness or throbbing
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain when urinating
- Unusual odor
- Unusual discharge
In some cases, these symptoms resolve on their own. This condition can often become chronic or recurrent, significantly affecting your quality of life and making everyday activities painful. Fortunately, even highly treatment-resistant symptoms can be treated by a specialist in vulvovaginal health.
Should I See a Vulvovaginal Specialist About My Vaginal pH?
Dr. Fowler at Fowler GYN International is a vulvovaginal specialist with a focus on symptoms like itching, burning, and pain. He has developed over 40 treatment protocols that restore your vagina’s natural lactobacillus population. With these bacteria producing their normal lactic acid, your vaginal pH will fall to healthy levels. This normal vaginal pH will rein in the growth of other microorganisms with no antibiotics or antifungals needed.
Take the Next Step
The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ specialize in the treatment of vulvovaginal conditions. The team at FGI is led by Dr. R. Stuart Fowler. Dr. Fowler is an Emeritus Mayo Clinic board-certified gynecologist.
You can reach FGI at https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001.