Shocked? In a day and age where we’ll open up about just about anything – especially after a few glasses of wine – most of us are still shy about talking about our vaginal health.
“For some reason it remains a taboo subject,” says Dr. Marla Shapiro, who sat down to chat with me a few weeks ago about vaginal health. We opened up Sex and the City style with a lot of honesty, and a little humour – all that was missing was Sarah Jessica herself.
Dr. Shapiro is a Canadian medical doctor and associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. As a fitness guru, I have always had the desire to empower women to live healthy lifestyles from the inside out, and to treat the cause, not the symptoms. Dr. Shapiro shares this philosophy so we got along great. She also had so many interesting insights. Did you know that a couple of those Sex and the City cosmopolitans can change the pH of your vagina?
Here’s what Dr. Shapiro has to say about this often off-limits topic.
“I Don’t Like my Scent”
While most of us would never say it out loud, we women can be very sensitive about vaginal odour. “It’s a misconception that vaginal odour means there is something wrong,” says Dr. Shapiro.
The vagina is a sensitive and unique ecosystem, and every woman has her own particular scent. And while a change in scent could be a sign of inflection, it is most often related to an unbalanced feminine pH.
Why Vaginal pH is so Important
A pH value is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14 – the lower the number, the more acidic the substance. While most of our body flourishes in a slightly alkaline environment, the vagina is actually quite acidic.
“There is a very narrow range of healthy pH for a vagina,” says Dr. Shapiro. Your vagina should be in the 3.5 to 4.5. range.
If your vaginal pH is unbalanced, odour-causing microorganisms can flourish. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons for a change in scent down there. An unbalanced pH can also lead to bacterial and yeast growth, resulting in an increased risk of urinary tract infections, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and even sexually transmitted diseases.
While this pH imbalance can be triggered by a variety of things, it is most often a result of hormonal changes, fluctuations in your menstrual cycle, sex, douching and even using body soaps.
It’s About Balance
Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to balance your vagina’s pH levels. First, it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle, what you eat and maintaining a healthy weight can both impact your vaginal pH and it’s overall health. High sugar diets and too much alcohol can make you especially susceptible to swings in pH.
If you have noticed a recent change in odour, or are prone to yeast and/or bladder infections, it’s also a great idea to look at probiotics.
Some probiotics are made to specifically target your vaginal health, like RepHresh Pro-B Feminine Probiotic Supplement. It contains two strains of probiotics that are clinically shown to balance yeast and bacteria to help maintain vaginal flora in a normal, healthy range.
A localized gel such as RepHresh pH Balancing Gel can also be used for short periods of time to eliminate odour and any discomfort that may arrive.
Also a few lifestyle factors can make a difference. Be wary of scented soaps and avoid wearing overly tight clothing – your vagina needs to breathe.
Embrace Your Vajayjay
It’s important to remember that every vagina is different. You may go your entire life without a pH imbalance or yeast or bacterial infection – or you may get them all the time. You may also have a naturally stronger scent. Ultimately it’s about figuring out what works for you so that you feel comfortable, healthy and confident. And remember, if you ever feel that anything is wrong, contact with your healthcare provider.
RepHresh wants you to try it for yourself. They are offering one lucky Canadian reader a $50 gift card (retailer TBD) to try it for yourself. Share your #pHBalancingAct stories with me for a chance to win!