How sex affects vaginal pH

The pH balance in your vagina is important, and it turns out that sex can influence the vaginal pH. Know more about it!

If you don’t pay attention to your vaginal health, you may end up with problems down there. While hygiene is a must, you can’t ignore sex as it can also be a reason behind infections. Some people may have these issues once or twice, others might have to deal with them more often. The infections are connected to your vaginal pH, which can get affected by sex. Read on to find out how sex affects your vaginal pH and what can be done.

What is vaginal pH?

Vaginal pH (potential of hydrogen) refers to the measurement of how acidic or basic the environment inside your vagina is, explains Dr Pooja Sharma, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Daffodils by Artemis. The scale ranges from 0 to 14, and if you have a normal vaginal pH, it will fall between 3.8 and 4.5. This slightly acidic pH level is maintained by the presence of beneficial bacteria, primarily lactobacilli, which help to keep your vagina healthy. The acidity aids in defending your vagina against several harmful bacteria, fungi and parasites.

Couple in bed
Sex affects your vaginal pH. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Why is pH important for vaginal health?

Vaginal pH is crucial for maintaining vaginal health because it plays a significant role in preventing infections and discomfort. The acidic environment helps to inhibit the growth of harmful microorganism such as certain types of bacteria and yeast. When the pH balance is disrupted, it can lead to conditions like bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, which can cause symptoms such as:

• Vaginal itching
• Unusual discharge
• Discomfort.

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How does sex change your vaginal pH?

Sex can enhance intimacy with your partner and is also considered to be a great stress-reliever. There are many benefits of sex are many, but it also has some effect on your vaginal pH.

1. Semen pH

Semen is typically slightly alkaline (basic), with a pH around 7.2 to 8, so this can temporarily raise the vaginal pH after sex, making the environment less acidic.

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2. Lubricants

Some lubricants may have an inappropriate pH, which can affect the vaginal environment if used during sex, says Dr Sharma. Always opt for pH-balanced and water-based lubricants to minimise any kind of disruption.

3. Spermicides

Spermicidal products, which consist of chemicals to stop sperm from getting to an egg, have an alkaline pH. They can alter the vaginal environment and potentially increase the risk of infections.

4. Foreign substances

The introduction of foreign substances such as perfumes, scented soaps or vaginal douches might get your attention. You might use them before or after sex, but try not to, as they can disrupt the vaginal pH and lead to imbalances.

Couple in bed
Opt for pH-balanced and water-based lubricants during sex. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5. Multiple sexual partners

Having multiple sexual partners can seem like an exciting thing to do, but it can introduce different types of semen and bacteria into the vagina. This can potentially affect the pH and increase the risk of infections, says the expert.

Before having sex, make sure to have a condom with you. After sex also, you should keep some things in mind. After having satisfying sex, it is essential to allow your vagina to naturally regain its acidic pH over time. Sex involves sweat and different kind of bodily fluids, so you might want to take shower and probably use different products to clean yourself. But avoid using soaps that are loaded with chemicals or anything scented. Instead, just focus on maintaining good hygiene, staying hydrated and wearing breathable underwear. Eating a diet rich in probiotics such as yogurt can help to support healthy vaginal flora, says the expert.

If there are recurring pH-related issues, check with your doctor for advice and treatments to restore balance.