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Home » Know your Body's pH » Vaginal pH in Different Phases

Vaginal pH in Different Phases

As women change in different lifephases, so does their delicate vaginal pH.

As a woman, you go through critical phases in life such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. As you go through these sensational shifts, production levels of estrogen and progesterone (major female hormones) change erratically. This hormonal imbalance disrupts the intimate area's pH balance, which often leads to the weakening of the vagina's acidic protective layer, and makes it more susceptible to irritation and infection.
Woman Life Cycle
Use images for all different phases of women life:

  • At birth, lactobacilli are predominant in the vagina, since the vaginal lining is still under the influence of the mother's estrogen. The vaginal pH at this stage is low. Over the first two years of life, the maternally-derived estrogen wanes, the vaginal mucosa becomes thin, and the pH rises to 6-7.5.
  • From menarche (me-nar-kee - the first menstruation), which ushers in puberty, lactobacillus is once again predominant due to the rise of estrogen levels. Lactic acid is now secreted abundantly in the vagina, which makes the vaginal pH decrease, thereby producing a protective layer that guards against infection of the vagina.
  • During menstruation or pregnancy, the female hormone levels fluctuate, which in turn disrupts the pH balance of the vagina. This interference with the natural acidic environment of the vagina allows room for bad bacteria to grow.
  • During menopause, hormones shift, so it's very common for most women to experience vaginal dryness due to less secretion of natural lubricants for the vagina. As hormone production decreases at this stage, the lactobacilli and lactic acid are also reduced, causing the vaginal pH to rise up to 6 – 7. This escalation weakens the acidic protective layer of the vagina and makes it more prone to harmful elements.



References:

  1. Dr. L. Brabin. Factors affecting vaginal pH levels among female adolescents attending genitominary medicine clinics. Sexually Transmitted Infections. 2005; 81; 483-487.
  2. Kaufmann HR, Faro S. Benign Diseases of the vulva and the vagina 4th ed, Mosby 1994, 361.
  3. Hay P. Bacterial vaginosis as a mixed infection. Polymicrobial Diseases 2002 edited by Kim A Brogden and Janet M Guthmiller.
  4. Caillouette J.C. et al. Vaginal pH as marker for bacterial pathogens and menopausal status. Am J of Ob Gyne 1997; 176(6):1270-1275.
  5. Vaginal Discharge by The McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2008. www.mckinley.uiuc.edu Accessed March 2009.
  6. Menopause & Perimenopause by Marcy Holmes 2009. www.womentowomen.com Accessed March 2009.
  7. MSN Encyclopedia & Dictionary 2008. www.encarta.msn.com Accessed March 2009.



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