What Is the Link Between Health, Sex and pH Balance?
As the medical community learns more and more about the complex and delicate female reproductive system, the research is revealing how important vaginal pH is for overall vaginal health. Wellness in this area also affects wellness in many other areas of women’s bodies—and lives.
The body’s pH balance indicates on a 0-14 scale the levels of acid (low end) and alkaline (high end) in the blood. Healthy vaginal pH levels should be around 4.5 to maintain the acidic environment needed for healthy bacterial growth. This environment prevents the overgrowth of Candida, a fungus that causes yeast infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other disorders that can impact physical and sexual health.
Vaginal pH can also impact your overall health, because frequent UTIs and yeast infections can cause secondary problems, such as cervical infections. Untreated, such conditions can lead to serious health complications.
A healthy vaginal pH level can improve sex drive, fertility and natural lubrication, which in turn can reduce vaginal irritation and pain during penetration.
If you are one of the millions of women who suffer from vaginal pH imbalance, you have many ways to rebalance your body’s natural pH and prevent these complications.
Foods that promote healthy pH levels
A healthy vaginal pH level is naturally acidic, so the best food choices for your pH level should be acidic, too. You should also look for foods that are high in antioxidants and natural prebiotics and probiotics (this claim is still being researched), as these food choices may help promote healthy bacteria growth. The most common and effective choice is cranberry juice or a daily cranberry supplement. A daily probiotic supplement, such as acidophilus or lactobacillus tablets, taken twice daily is highly recommended to prevent vaginal infections and UTIs.
For some women, the high acidity in cranberry juice and cranberry supplements can cause acid reflux. Fortunately, many other food choices can promote vaginal acidity and are natural sources of prebiotics and probiotics:
- Citrus fruit
Fermented foods have become increasingly popular in the past decade. Research now shows that a healthy vaginal pH balance can be maintained because of the billions of live cultures that live in these acidic, fermented foods.
Adding one serving of any of the following may help you rebalance and maintain a healthy vaginal pH level:
Building up a healthy, acidic pH level will help prevent unwanted bacterial growth and maintain vaginal health, improve fertility and prevent secondary health complications related to vaginal-health issues.
Lifestyle choices that improve vaginal health
A healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and hydration, is a vital component to achieving overall wellness, as well as maintaining the delicate pH balance essential to a normal monthly cycle.
Many women don’t know that their monthly cycle can make them more susceptible to bacterial overgrowths. A few minor changes can make a huge difference in overall wellness, especially for women who have regular yeast infections and UTIs.
During menstruation, the vagina’s natural pH level will rise to a more neutral pH. This is great for conception because sperm cells need an alkaline environment for implantation with an egg. This also means, however, that Candida is better able to grow because it likes a more alkaline environment.
To counteract this change in body pH, it’s important to be extremely careful with your hygiene practices while menstruating. Avoid the following:
- Detergent-based and highly fragrant soaps
- Douches (both homemade and store-bought)
- Tight-fitting clothing
Instead, choose moisturizing soaps, cleansers and body washes that are fragrance-free or specifically formulated to maintain vaginal pH balance.
Also, while regular workouts help strengthen the vaginal wall and support overall wellness, the following precautions can help prevent pH imbalance:
- Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear
- Change out of workout clothes before leaving the gym
- Use unscented vaginal cleansing wipes after a workout
As you learn to listen to your body and make vaginal health a significant part of your daily routine, your overall health will improve, and you will experience fewer yeast infections and UTIs.
Making pH balance a priority
These are just some of the many tips for better vaginal pH balance. The best advice, though, is to pay attention and listen closely to what your body’s telling you. Pain during sex, or itching, burning or redness in the vaginal area can be signs of an infection, and you should schedule an appointment with your gynecologist.
Make your vaginal health a priority and you will improve your sex life and overall health.