Vaginal pH Levels
Definition - What does Vaginal pH Levels mean?
Vaginal pH levels are a measure of the acidity of the vagina. Normally, the vagina maintains an acidic pH of 3.8 to 4.5. Certain infections can affect the pH of the vagina. A vaginal pH that is outside of the normal range can impact fertility.
FertilitySmarts explains Vaginal pH Levels
Vaginal pH levels are usually acidic, which promotes the growth of two "good" types of bacteria, lactobacilli and corynebacterium. These bacteria help prevent the overgrowth of yeast and "bad" bacteria that cause infection.
The two main symptoms of an abnormality in vagina pH levels are odor and discharge. If a woman is experiencing these symptoms, she may have bacterial vaginosis (BV), trichomoniasis (trich), or a yeast infection. These infections thrive in more basic environments and occur when the vagina has a pH of 4.5 or higher.
Semen has a pH of around 7.2-8.0. Therefore, the acidic vaginal environment is toxic to sperm. However, the cervical mucus produced during a woman's fertile window has a pH of about 7.0 and supports sperm survival.
A healthy vagina normally regulates its pH well on its own, so it is unnecessary to routinely monitor vaginal pH levels. If indicated, a vaginal pH testing kit can be purchased from a pharmacy. Testing for BV, trich, and yeast infections is done by a healthcare professional. Because these infections are most commonly associated with abnormal vaginal pH levels, treatment of the infection typically resolves the issue.