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5 home remedies to maintain a healthy vaginal pH balance

If your vagina is prone to infections, your vaginal pH balance may be off. Here are some effective home remedies to maintain a healthy vaginal pH.
Vaginal pH balance is important for your health. Image courtesy: Freepik
Shruti Bhattacharya Published: 22 Jun 2024, 06:00 pm IST
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Your vagina can clean up on its own, but sometimes it needs a helping hand. A healthy vagina has a slightly acidic pH balance, which helps good bacteria flourish and avoid infections. However, if you are experiencing symptoms like itching or burning down there, it could mean that your pH balance is disturbed. For those unfamiliar with pH or the potential of hydrogen, it is a value used to determine how acidic or alkaline (basic) a substance is. The acidity or pH levels of your vagina help to defend it against various bacteria, parasites, and fungi. So, the pH level should not exceed the normal range. Here are some simple home remedies you can try to maintain vaginal pH balance.

What is vaginal pH balance?

The vaginal pH balance refers to the level of acidity in the vagina. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with lower numbers indicating higher acidity and higher numbers indicating higher alkalinity. The vaginal environment is naturally acidic, which helps to prevent infections by creating a hostile environment for harmful bacteria and fungi. This balance is maintained by beneficial bacteria, primarily Lactobacilli, which produce lactic acid, as per a 2021 study published in the Diagnostics journal.

Vaginal pH balance can be affected by sex. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What causes an imbalance in vaginal pH?

Several factors can disrupt the normal pH balance of the vagina, shares gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Seema Sharma.

  • Sexual activity: Semen has a higher pH (alkaline), which can temporarily raise the vaginal pH.
  • Menstruation: Blood has a higher pH than the vaginal environment, which can alter the pH balance during periods.
  • Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menopause, and hormonal contraceptives can affect vaginal pH.
  • Antibiotics: These can kill beneficial bacteria along with harmful ones, disrupting the balance.
  • Douching and harsh soaps: These can disturb the natural flora and pH of the vagina.
  • Infections: Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections can cause a shift in pH balance.

What are the symptoms of an imbalance in vaginal pH?

Here are some of the common symptoms of unbalanced vaginal pH, as explained by the expert.

  • Strong, fish-like odour originating from your vagina
  • Vaginal discharge can be grey, green, or foamy
  • Itching near the vagina
  • Swelling and discomfort around the vagina.
  • Pain or burning sensation in the vagina during sex
  • Urinating causes a burning sensation.

5 home remedies to maintain healthy vaginal pH balance

To maintain a healthy vaginal pH balance, consider the following home remedies –

1. Take probiotic supplements

Probiotics assist the body in producing healthy bacteria capable of combating bacteria that cause abnormal vaginal pH levels. According to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, probiotic therapy may provide both short- and long-term benefits in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis, which is the cause of vaginal pH imbalance. You can take probiotic supplements, but natural probiotics can benefit the bacterial colony that keeps the vagina healthy. So, you can have yoghurt, cottage cheese, and kefir.

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2. Try apple cider vinegar

Many people incorporate apple cider vinegar into their daily regimen for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, as per a 2018 study published in Scientific Reports. You can consume diluted apple cider vinegar or take it as a supplement. Direct application to the vagina, even diluted, is not recommended. It may be detrimental to the vaginal tissue and pH levels.

3. Garlic may help

Garlic is known for its antibacterial and antifungal effects. According to a 2020 research published in Scientific Reports, it can help treat vaginal infections. When consumed as part of a healthy diet, garlic is generally harmless. Garlic supplements for oral use are available. It is advised to avoid using garlic directly in or around the vagina.

Garlic can help maintain vaginal pH balance. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Drink cranberry juice

Consuming unsweetened cranberry juice can help maintain urinary tract health, which is closely linked to vaginal health. “Cranberries contain compounds that can prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract,” explains the expert.

5. Include boric acid supplements in your diet

Boric acid, an old natural treatment, has been used for centuries to maintain vaginal pH levels and treat female reproductive disorders due to its antibacterial and antifungal qualities, according to a study published in the Author Manuscript. Boric acid is a water-soluble colourless chemical composed of oxygen, hydrogen, and boron.

Other ways to manage imbalance in vaginal pH

Here are some tips to manage unbalanced vaginal pH:

1. Refrain from douching as it can disrupt the natural flora and pH of the vagina. The vagina is self-cleaning and doesn’t require internal washing.
2. Wear breathable cotton underwear and avoiding tight-fitting clothing can reduce moisture buildup and maintain a healthy environment.
3. Practice good hygiene by washing the external genital area with mild soap and water. Avoid using scented products that can disrupt the natural pH balance.
4. Drink plenty of water helps maintain overall body hydration and can influence the vaginal environment positively by ensuring adequate mucous production and flushing out toxins.

Shruti Bhattacharya

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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