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BY DR. MICHAEL KRYCHMAN
The vagina is really incredible. It is an area of sexual pleasure, acts as the passageway for new life entering the world and has remarkable self-cleaning ability. It is approximately 2.5 cm wide, and 7-10 cm long and is surrounded by the labia majora and minor (or vaginal lips). The vagina biome contains a lot of different types of micro-organisms and has natural secretions that maintain a healthy acidic and balanced environment.
The normal vaginal environment should have an approximate pH values ranging from 3.8 to 4.5. An acidic vagina is a happy vagina! This acidic pH creates a perfect ecosystem that creates the delicate balance so that good bacteria can thrive while preventing a nasty discharge, odor causing bacteria from overgrowing. The acid-like environment is due to the production of lactic acid by the Lactobacillus, bacteria that normally lives in the vagina. The lactic acid counter acts and deactivates the abnormal microbes. A normal pH has many helpful and beneficial bacteria (normal vaginal flora) that supports and protects against infection, abnormal discharge and can help secrete normal discharge that keep the vagina healthy and clean. Most women need to understand that, during the female’s lifecycle, there are certain times in her life when her vaginal environmental may be altered. These changes may predispose her to painful infections.
The delicate vaginal environmental can be modified under a variety of conditions. Blood typically has an elevated pH and during the monthly cycle, blood alters the existing vaginal environment. Tampons (designed to absorb blood and the good/bad bacteria) can also change the vaginal ph. Some women who get tampon infections have solved their changes in pH with the use of a reusable or disposable menstrual cup that collects rather than absorbs blood and may help maintain a more normative vaginal balance.
Ejaculation within the vagina during intercourse exposes the vaginal tissues to male semen which has very elevated ph. This acts as a ph disruptor. Women who want to avoid post sex vaginal irritation may opt for consistent condom use.
Say no to vaginal douching since they falsely believe that using a vinegar-based solution may help cleanse and deodorize the vagina. Douche with vinegar cause more harm than good since most douches have pH of 2.9. Many over the counter “sensitive” “Intimate” or other genital cleansing soaps have abnormal pH and impact the vaginal health, as well.
Some believe that certain foods and drinks may impact the genital flora. Many health gurus advocate avoidance of excessive tea, carbonated soft drinks, coffee and junk food. Processed food with a lot of salt preservatives also are known to negatively impact the vagina. Be food smart. Focus on healthy colorful fruits, yogurt, and vegetables. Drink lots of water and keep well hydrated.
The acidic vagina maintains a delicate balance between good and bad bacteria and under a variety of life conditions or circumstances this balance may become disrupted, predisposing to vaginal infections and irritating symptomatology. Treat your vagina with respect and choose high quality products for beauty, health and sexual pleasure.
Women with sensitivities should be sensitive when purchasing beauty, health and sexual pleasure products. Sexual lubricant such as Naturalove and AGAPÉ are great choices, as they were developed with this in mind. Naturalove is USDA Certified Organic, meaning it is truly one of a kind. AGAPÉ (pronounced ah-gah-pay), was designed to mimic a woman's natural lubrication, and is free of glycerin, glycol and parabens; ideal for those who are ingredient driven.
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