The vagina has an intricate system for protecting the sensitive mucous membranes. Your body produces a fluid that is naturally acidic or, in other words, has a low pH value. Furthermore, there is a bacterial flora in your vagina that protects you against fungal attacks and bacterial infections.
The body’s protection
The combination of a body fluid producing a low pH and a bacterial flora consisting mostly of lactobacilli (also known as lactic acid bacteria and lactobacteria) provides good protection. The naturally low pH value protects your vagina against fungi and inhibits the growth of less desirable bacteria. Lactobacilli prefer low pH values.
Lactobacteria help to protect your vagina in a number of ways and live in symbiosis with your body. They produce substances that fight bacteria and micro-organisms, as well as lactic acid that helps to maintain a low pH value. Lactic acid bacteria also fulfil another important function. The bacteria occupy space that otherwise could be exploited by potentially harmful micro-organisms, e.g. certain types of bacteria and fungi. When the vaginal flora is disturbed, your vagina is more vulnerable to infections and fungal attacks. You can easily restore the vaginal flora by using special hygiene products on a regular basis.
Vaginal pH may vary
The natural vaginal pH may vary between individuals. There are also differences in what counts as a normal value depending on what stage in life you are in.
- In women who have not yet reached puberty the pH value is around 7,0
- In women who have passed puberty and are of reproductive age, the normal pH ranges between 3,8 and 4,4
- During menopause, your vaginal pH increases, and the normal variation ranges between 6,5 and 7,0 if you are not taking a hormonal treatment
- If you are taking a hormonal treatment, your value should lie between 4,5 and 5,0
Important variables for vaginal pH are levels of oestrogen, lactobacilli and glycogen in your vagina. Lactobacteria thrive in pH values of around 4 or below. Fungal infections and bacterial imbalance such as vaginosis cause a higher pH value than normal.