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What Are Symptoms of Unbalanced pH Levels?

What Are Symptoms of Unbalanced pH Levels?

Maintaining a balanced pH level in your vagina is vital for overall vaginal health and comfort. However, when this delicate pH balance is disrupted, you may experience a few symptoms that can be uncomfortable and even concerning at times.

In this article, we'll explore the common symptoms of unbalanced pH levels in the vagina, empowering you with the knowledge to identify and address potential imbalances. By understanding these symptoms, you can take proactive steps to restore balance and promote a healthy vaginal environment. 

But First, What Exactly Is pH?

pH is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity on a scale that ranges from zero to 14, with seven being neutral. Substances with a pH lower than seven are considered acidic, while those higher on the pH scale are considered alkaline. Our bodies are constantly fighting to keep a healthy pH balance to support optimal function and overall health.

The pH levels in various parts of our body differ, with each region requiring its unique balance. The vagina is no exception — it has its ideal pH range, and when that balance is disrupted, it can lead to bacterial overgrowth and uncomfortable symptoms.

What Is the Normal Vaginal pH?

A healthy vaginal pH ranges from 3.8 to five, which is moderately acidic. This slightly acidic environment helps to maintain an optimal balance of good bacteria, known as lactobacilli, and limits the growth of harmful bacteria that can lead to infections.

At different stages of a woman's life, the ideal vaginal pH can vary. For example:

  • During puberty, the hormonal balance begins to change, and this can lead to imbalanced pH levels. 
  • During menstruation, pH levels may rise slightly due to the presence of blood, which has a neutral pH.
  • During menopause, changes in estrogen levels can result in an increase in pH.

What Are Signs That Your Vaginal pH Is Off?

The vagina’s pH is important not just for comfort but also for your general health. A bacterial imbalance that starts in the vagina can easily spread if left unaddressed. 

Luckily, there are a few telltale signs and symptoms that may indicate a vaginal imbalance.

Unpleasant Odor

An unpleasant odor emanating from the vagina can be a sign of imbalanced pH levels. Specifically, a lingering fishy scent can indicate that something might be out of balance, as it can mean that a shift in pH has allowed bad bacteria to grow.

If you notice an unwelcome smell, it's advisable to seek medical attention. Your women’s health provider can rule out vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV) or provide treatment options.

Vaginal Itching

An issue with vaginal pH balance can cause itching, irritation, and redness in the vulva and surrounding areas. This discomfort can be quite severe and can interfere with daily activities if it progresses. 

An imbalanced pH level can also make you more likely to contract infections like vaginitis, which can cause dryness and itching. You can test your vaginal pH at home with an over-the-counter pH test or have your doctor test it.


A balanced pH level should result in clear, odorless discharge. However, imbalanced pH levels can cause changes in vaginal discharge. The color and the consistency of the discharge can be altered, resulting in an unpleasant smell and uncomfortable build-up. 

It could be thick and white like cottage cheese or thin and watery, depending on the specific imbalance you’re looking at. If you notice abnormal discharge, we recommend seeking medical assistance since these symptoms may indicate a bacterial infection.

Painful Urination

Pain during urination can be an indication of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or other, more serious health conditions. Urinary issues can cause acidity, potentially leading to a pH imbalance. It's important to quickly treat any UTIs that may arise to maintain a balanced pH level.

If you experience recurrent UTIs, we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider. You may also want to consider taking a probiotic supplement like our Good Girl Probiotics®. Probiotics can help maintain the balance of beneficial bacteria in both the gut and the vagina, which can help keep infections at bay while supporting a healthy pH.

Burning Sensation

A burning sensation during sex, urination, or when inserting tampons is a common symptom of an imbalanced pH level. It can be caused by an imbalance of bacteria or yeast in the vaginal area. Using products that are specifically balanced to vaginal pH can also raise the acidity levels causing discomfort. 

Note: A healthy, balanced pH level usually causes little to no discomfort during sexual activity or tampon usage, so if you experience pain, be sure to seek medical advice. 

How Can You Support a Healthy Vaginal pH?

Now that we've covered the symptoms of an unbalanced vaginal pH, let's go over a few tips and tricks to help keep your levels in check. 

Avoid Douching

One of the most important ways to support your vaginal pH is to avoid douching. Douching can wash away the good bacteria in your vagina and lead to an imbalance in pH. This can increase your risk of infections, including bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. It's generally best to avoid douching altogether and let your body's natural systems maintain your vaginal health.

Wear Breathable Underwear

The fabric of your underwear you wear can also affect your vaginal pH. Tight-fitting clothes and synthetic fabrics don't allow your skin to breathe properly and can trap moisture. This moisture creates an environment where unhealthy bacteria can thrive, upsetting the natural balance of your vagina. 

Instead, opt for breathable cotton underwear, which allow your skin to breathe and help maintain a healthy pH.

Practice Safe Sex

Safe sexual practices are not only important for preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but also for maintaining a healthy vaginal pH. Try to use barrier methods like condoms to reduce the risk of STIs and prevent the introduction of harmful bacteria into your vagina. 

And remember — communication and consent are essential for healthy sexual experiences.

Practice Proper Hygiene

Another essential aspect of supporting your vaginal pH is proper hygiene. You can support your vagina by taking regular showers and avoiding harsh soaps and shampoos, which can cause irritation and an imbalance in your pH. 

Instead, opt for a mild, fragrance-free cleanser that won't disrupt your vaginal pH. Not sure where to find one? Check out our pH Balancing Cleanser™. This gentle formula features aloe vera and is sulfate-free and fragrance-free so it can support your sensitive skin.

Pro Tip: Need a quick refresh while you're out and about? Keep our travel-size pH Balancing wipes™ on hand for a quick cleanse that won't disrupt your healthy pH levels.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Maintaining a balanced diet is not only beneficial for your overall health but can also support a healthy vaginal pH. You can start by including plenty of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables in your diet. These foods can help support beneficial bacteria in your gut and vagina, aiding in pH balance.

Be Mindful of Intimate Products

When it comes to intimate products, choose wisely and opt for unscented and pH-balanced tampons, pads, and panty liners where you can. At the same time, try to stay away from harsh chemicals and scented products that can disrupt the delicate vaginal pH. 

Consider natural alternatives or consult with your healthcare provider for recommendations that suit your specific needs.

Wrap Up

It's important to keep your vaginal pH balanced. Doing so can not only help ease your symptoms, but it can also keep your vagina healthy long term.

If you're experiencing any signs or symptoms associated with an imbalanced pH level, it's wise to speak to a doctor or gynecologist. They can help you find out if there’s an underlying cause and provide you with suitable treatment options. With the right care, you can rest assured that your vagina is in the best of health.

Here at Love Wellness, we understand how important it is to keep everything moving smoothly down there, and that's why we offer a range of products, from cleansers to supplements, to help you do just that. 


Definition of pH | NCI Dictionary

Vaginal pH Value for Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Vaginitis | PMC

Should You Take Probiotics for Vaginal Health? | Cleveland Clinic

Vaginal Discharge: Causes, Colors, What's Normal & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic

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