(BPT) - The vagina is a delicate ecosystem that must be maintained at a normal pH of 3.8-4.5, the same pH as beer, if you can believe it! Everyday events like blood with your period, sex, soaps, certain medications and the water in a douche can all elevate the natural vaginal balance, because those elements have a pH of 7.5 or 8. When the pH is disrupted, you might experience burning, itching or an unpleasant odor.
What to do? OB/GYN, Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., offers the following tips.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and cranberry juice, as it’s good for the bladder, and the acidity helps balance pH levels to relieve UTI symptoms. Foods high in sugar can increase the risk of yeast infections. So, avoid processed foods, alcohol and sugary drinks, and eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains to help prevent yeast issues and UTIs.
Most vaginal odor is not the result of poor hygiene. The secret is to keep the vaginal pH balanced, instead of just masking the problem with scented soaps, fragrance sprays, irritating wipes and pads that can be harmful to delicate tissue. Over-the-counter RepHresh Gel does just that. It keeps the pH balanced to the normal pH and eliminates odor for up to three days. Lingering bacteria can cause odor too. If you douche, remember to balance pH immediately after with one application of RepHresh, or use a RepHresh Clean Balance kit that includes both a cleaning solution and pH balancer all-in-one.
Yeast infections are common because yeast tends to grow in warm, moist areas. Change out of wet bathing suits and tight exercise clothing right after that run, bike or hike and when douching to cleanse the yeast, remember it can actually destroy the healthy pH balance. That’s why it’s important to restore normal pH right after douching.
Symptoms of a yeast infection can include odorless and sometimes thick discharge, itching and burning. Many women think they have a yeast infection when they actually have bacterial vaginosis (BV), an increase of “bad” bacteria, usually caused by unbalanced pH. Symptoms of BV are often similar, but the discharge produced generally has an unpleasant odor. If you aren’t sure whether you have BV or a yeast infection, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and solution.
While there are yogurts that add probiotics to promote digestive health and immunity, no yogurts are shown to maintain vaginal health. RepHresh Pro-B is different from other probiotics, lactobacillus and acidophilus products because it is clinically shown to provide healthy probiotic lactobacillus that work to balance yeast and bacteria. With one capsule taken daily, you can help maintain vaginal flora in a normal healthy range.
By remembering a few simple tips, you can stay healthy and decrease the risk of vaginal issues and unpleasant odor and itch.
Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., is a clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine.