The vagina is made up of different micro biomes, and they need to be balanced for good vaginal health. Unfortunately, an imbalanced pH can occur for different reasons such as douching, menstruation, infections, pregnancy and menopause. Why do you get a UTI after sex? One of the reasons is sperm can throw off the pH balance, and another is because proper post-sex steps were not followed.
Keeping the pH levels balanced is important for chronic UTI treatment, and there are products on the market that can help bring the pH back to its healthy range of 3.6 to 4.5 and maintain it at this level. However, prevention is the best way to restore the vaginal pH and keep it there over the long run.
Symptoms of pH Imbalance
When the vagina’s pH is imbalanced, there are certain symptoms one may experience. Some of these symptoms include:
- Unpleasant fishy odor
- Burning, especially during urination or sex
- Vaginal discharge
Women can also determine when pH levels are off by using a pH test strip. These can be found at a pharmacy or at the doctor’s office.
Natural Ways to Balance pH
There are certain natural remedies that can support good bacteria and restore the vagina’s pH. Probiotic supplements and foods help increase beneficial microbes, such as Lactobacilli, and prevent harmful organisms. Good food choices include cultured yogurt and organic non-dairy kefir. Apple cider vinegar also helps get rid of bad microbes because of its antibacterial properties.
During a menstrual cycle, women should use 100% organic cotton tampons or pads because they prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and do not contain toxic chemicals, dyes or fragrances. Women should also avoid using feminine hygiene products meant to clean the vagina. Douching can cause a pH imbalance because it rids the vagina of good bacteria.
The vagina actually naturally cleans itself when the body is in good health. One of the best ways to maintain a healthy pH is to eat a plant-based diet and cut down on starch and sugar, because bacteria and yeast feed off of these molecules.
The vagina’s pH is also affected by certain lubricants. If using one, women should choose a natural kind that is water-based instead of oil-based because water will not alter the pH levels.
Urinary Tract Infections and pH Levels
One consequence of having imbalanced pH levels is there is a bigger risk of getting a UTI. When figuring out how to prevent a UTI, following the previous tips can help. Other prevention advice includes:
- Urinate immediately after intercourse to flush out bacteria
- Always wipe front to back when going to the bathroom
- Avoid long baths
- Wash and rinse the vaginal area thoroughly
- Change tampons and pads regularly
- Drink copious amounts of water
Women who get a UTI are at a greater risk of having another one within six months, even after antibiotic treatment. It is important to keep vaginal pH balanced to prevent recurring infections.
Keep pH Levels Balanced for Good Vaginal Health
Vaginal health is important for many reasons. Frequent UTIs or other infections are a sign of imbalance. While there are products that help, it may be more effective to use natural approaches for long-lasting health.