Role Of vaginal pH
Maintaining a physiological vaginal pH ( acidic ) is an important protective factor against bacterial infections of the internal genitalia.
How And What Varies vaginal pH
In infancy and old age , when estrogen levels are low, vaginal pH is around neutral (6-7). In adolescence and adulthood , on the other hand, the environment becomes acidic (around 4.5), protecting the vagina from infections and promoting the growth of Doderlein’s lactobacilli , symbiotic bacteria which ferment cellular glycogen into lactic acid .
Thanks to this acidity , to a competitive mechanism for nutrients and to the antibacterial substances produced during their metabolism , Doderlein’s lactobacilli protect women from vaginal and vulvovaginal infections , preventing the proliferation of a wide range of pathogens.
The vaginal pH tends to move towards neutrality – as well as in infancy and senescence – also during the menstrual and premenstrual period ; before ovulation , on the other hand, it is very acidic and begins to rise after the release of the egg from the follicle .
Vaginal acidity, which we have seen to be an obstacle to the development of pathogenic germs, is equally unfavorable to the survival of the spermatozoa ; during the ovulatory period, on the other hand, the intervention of the cervical mucus (whose pH is around 8) counteracts this acidity, facilitating any fecundation .
Male semen , for its part, has a slightly alkaline pH (7.2 – 7.8) and tends to shift the vaginal pH towards neutrality (for this reason, in the presence of recurrent episodes of bacterial vaginosis , the use of condoms can be recommended). help even when the partner is perfectly healthy).
The same can be said for blood loss during the menstrual period (blood has a pH between 7.34 and 7.45).
Vaginal pH test
Vaginal pH Test: What It Indicates And How To Interpret The Results
A simple kit allows you to detect vaginal pH in an instant both in clinical and domestic settings (just place a clean litmus paper on the inner walls of the vagina for a few seconds).
The use of this simple test can be useful to establish whether the presence of annoying vaginal symptoms ( itching , burning , bad odor and abnormal vaginal discharge ) is attributable or not to an infection.
In any case, the pH test must necessarily be associated with more in-depth investigations , such as the culture of vaginal discharge, their microscopic examination, odor and Gram stain.
Use in the home, therefore, must have a purely indicative purpose , because – isolated from other diagnostic tests – it does not provide any certainty on the presence or absence of an infection, much less on the type of microorganism involved; for this reason it cannot in any way justify the use of self-therapy.
Vaginal pH and pH of Soaps
Vaginal pH: Which Soap To Use And What To Avoid?
Since many soaps have a particularly high pH value , most gynecologists recommend using specific products for intimate hygiene or a delicate soap .
In order not to alter the acidity of the vaginal environment , it is important to avoid the use of douches ; the vagina, in fact, is an organ that cleans itself and a normal washing of the external genitalia ( vulva ) with warm water and delicate soap is more than sufficient.
In fact, the substances dissolved in the liquid used for irrigation can upset the local microflora and raise the pH of the vagina, favoring the encroachment of pathogens and increasing the risk of severe infections (the consequences can be very serious, such as the dreaded inflammatory disease pelvic ).