Whether you are recovering from a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis or another type of vaginal complication, restoring your pH balance plays a key role in your overall wellness.
A healthy pH level is 4.5. This higher acidity environment blocks the growth of unhealthy bacteria.
If you struggle with chronic vaginal issues, or you are interested in a holistic approach to vaginal wellness, here are a few suggestions.
Avoid physical irritants
Perfumed bath soaps and gels, tight-fitting clothing and douching can irritate your vagina and alter its delicate pH balance. Try washing the outside of the vulva with unscented soap or just water. Wear loose clothing, and change out of a wet bathing suit and sweaty exercise clothes immediately after use.
If you are experiencing an unpleasant odor with no other symptoms, a simple change of diet may be the answer, rather than flushing out healthy microbes with a douche. You can also look into using boric acid suppositories, which many OB-GYNs swear by to balance out chronic vaginosis.
Foods for a healthy vagina
Nutritionists often speak of superfoods for overall health. These rich food sources also support a healthy reproductive system.
Kimchi, a staple in Korean pantries, and Greek yogurt both contain probiotics that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the body.
Since low beta-carotene levels in women can trigger vaginal candidiasis, sweet potatoes offer a good option. They are packed with beta-carotene, a precursor to the essential vitamin A—the vitamin that protects the reproductive system. The phytochemicals found in sweet potatoes, which give them their rich color, are studied for their health benefits, including disease prevention.
Cranberries and omega-3 fatty acids may also support a healthy vagina.
There are many probiotic pills and powders on the market sold as cosmetic supplements. Lack of efficacy evidence has prevented the medical community from endorsing probiotics to patients. However, the probiotic lactobacillus crispatus, under the product name Lactin-V, shows promise. Now in clinical studies, this probiotic found in yogurt may soon be awarded FDA approval.
Traditional Chinese medicines (TCM), acupuncture and herbal mixtures are well known for their holistic healing properties. TCM practitioners understand that external target areas interconnect with internal organs. Western medicine has finally embraced this 3,000-year-old science, and its practices are seen as effective complementary or alternative protocols for treating gynecological issues.
Mental and emotional self-care
Managing your daily stress with a yoga and/or meditation practice will boost your mental clarity and build up your immune system. And never underestimate the power of talking about your life and relationships with a professional psychotherapist or psychoanalyst. They can provide a safe space and bring a new perspective to behavioral and thought processes.
Find a supportive practice to fit your personality and lifestyle. Studies have linked prolonged exposure to the physiologic "fight or flight" response to the inflammation of vaginal walls and unbalanced pH levels.
A holistic approach to vaginal issues supports a whole-body wellness routine. By incorporating a few mindful adjustments to your lifestyle, diet and wellness regimen, your vaginal pH can be naturally restored.
The suggestions in this article are meant to support a health regimen, not to replace medical advice. If you are experiencing vaginal pain, continued odorous discharge or irritation, please consult your doctor.