When you think of bacteria, you might automatically think of evil little monsters living in your body, destroying your immune system and making you sick at all the most inconvenient times. While some of that is true, there is actually a lot of good bacteria that lives inside you, believe it or not. I know the term “bacteria” is inherently negative, but there are some good types that you should know about, specifically the good types of bacteria in your vagina. Yes, you read that right.I know the phrase “bacteria in your vagina” sounds HORRIFYING, but hear me out.
At Gurl, we often mention your vagina’s pH balance, but have you ever wondered what that really means? In very simple terms, your pH balance is a number that states how acidic your vagina is, and also how healthy it is. Your pH is measured in levels (we will get into that in a minute) that signify the acidity of your vagina. When your vagina is at a good acid level, it helps keep a certain type of bacteria active. But don’t freak out! This is actually a good type of bacteria living down there, making things happy and lovely. I know an acidic vagina sounds scary, but it’s actually important! Here’s what’s actually going on down there when it comes to your pH balance:
The Good Bacteria Prevents InfectionThe good bacteria in your vagina is vital in protecting you against bad bacteria that can end up in your vagina after sex or even from tampons. Bad bacteria can cause infections like bacterial vaginosis or a nasty yeast infection, which is NOT fun. The good bacteria in your vagina is meant to regulate your pH balance in order to prevent those infections from happening, which is why keeping your pH in check is important. Image Source: iStock
A Healthy pH Is Between 3.5 And 4.5Your pH balance is really important. To ensure that everything is running smoothly down there, you want to make sure that it the balance stays between 3.5 and 4.5. That number basically tells you how acidic your vagina is. A lot of things can affect your pH balance, like soaps and even water. Water has a pH of 7, which means that TOO much water can negatively affect your pH. You don't have to check your pH all the time, but a good way to know it f it is out of balance is if you notice weird smells or a lot of discharge. Image Source: iStock
There Are Two Types Of BacteriaThere are two good types of bacteria in your vagina: lactobacilli and corynebacterium. They basically destroy the bad bacteria to keep your vagina nice and healthy. See, some bacteria is good! You don't want your vagina to be totally bacteria free, because it won't protect against the bad stuff. Image Source: iStock
A High pH Can Cause Your Vagina To SmellVaginal odor is normal and normally nothing to worry about. Sometimes, if your vag smells a little weird down there, your pH might be a little too high. If your pH is out of balance, it will decrease the amount of good bacteria and just put you at risk for infection. This doesn't mean that you WILL get sick if your pH goes above a 3.5, but it does put you at risk. Image Source: iStock
You Can Test Your pH At HomeI don't want you to stress out TOO much about your pH levels, since it's normal for them to fluctuate. If you are super concerned with your pH balance, you need to head to a gyno and see what's up. You can use an at-home kit to test it out, but it's not necessary unless you are noticing some weird smells or an increase in discharge. Image Source: iStock
There Are A Lot Of Things That Can Throw Off Your pH BalanceEven if you do EVERYTHING right, certain things will make your pH levels go up, and that's okay. Period blood has a pH of 7, which can raise your natural pH balance if you keep your tampon in for too long. Certain soaps can have a pH of up to 10, which can also raise your vaginal pH levels. As long as you are staying healthy and cautious, odds are good that you will be safe. If you are really concerned, be sure to call a doctor. Image Source: iStock
Did you know all of these pH facts? Tell us in the comments!