As well educated women, most of us know at least the fundamentals about our own genital health. Watch out for abnormal discharge, don’t douche, do pee after sex, don’t overwash because the vagina is a self-cleaning organ, so on and so forth. I knew and (I thought) observed all of these things. So it was discouraging to me why I kept having issues with my *lady health* when I was doing nothing to warrant it.
And then I found out a little more about vaginal pH and its contribution to female gynecological health. See, the female vagina maintains a slightly acidic state (between 3.8 and 4.5 whereas 7 is neutral and a highly alkaline or basic product, bleach, is around 12.5) which helps the good bacteria flourish and keep things functioning in there. When that pH balance is disturbed, the vagina loses its first defense—the good bacteria—against things like candidiasis and bacterial vaginosis. And most women know what a pain in the ass at least one if not both of those conditions are.
It was my gynecologist who turned me on to this whole vaginal pH thing, and she also turned me on to a product which is supposed to help balance vaginal pH. Unfortunately that product is loaded with glycerin and parabens, so it actually made my issues worse, being highly sensitive to glycerin especially. In any case, being newly introduced to this idea of vaginal pH, I decided to do a little research. I especially wanted to know ways I could keep my vaginal health without having to use any storebought products, especially since such products are apparently fraught with ingredients that were only worsening my problems.
And of course my research told me the usual. Don’t douche, don’t wear a lot of synthetic fabrics, don’t wear tight clothing. The vulva and vagina do not need washed, only rinsed, for the vagina is a self cleansing organ. Okay. Same old same old. But then I found out WHY the vagina and vulva not only do not need washing, but why washing is harmful. The naughty little secret regarding most soaps is that they are actually pretty highly alkaline, with an average pH of 9-10. And therein was my problem.
See, I thought I would be okay giving my vulva—external labia only, not delving into the more internal regions at all—a light wash with very gentle baby soap during my daily shower. (I use baby soap for all of me, not just my vulva, since the rest my of skin is also very sensitive.) I wasn’t washing the sensitive mucous membranes, only the actual skin. I wasn’t scrubbing with a washcloth, only my sudsed up hand. I was rinsing thoroughly. And yet, I was still very wrong because even that little bit was upsetting the balanced environment of my vagina.
So I cut out soap down there entirely. I also managed to find a laundry detergent that advertised being pH neutral. And what do you know… my issues are gone. My vulva and vagina are happy as—dare I say it?—clams.
And when my lady parts are happy, I am happy.