Are you are experiencing vaginal itching, a burning sensation when peeing, or unusual vaginal discharge? Using a vaginal pH test at home can help to confirm or rule out a vaginal infection like Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) and whether or not medical treatment is required.
Read on to learn more about the convenience of self-testing kits and how to use a vaginal pH test at home. We’ll also discuss two natural supplements and some helpful lifestyle changes you can make to keep your vaginal pH balanced to avoid future infections.
Vaginal pH test: What Is It?
A vaginal pH test is an easy way to measure how alkaline or acidic your vaginal environment is. On a scale from 1 to 14, a healthy vagina typically measures between 3.8 and 4.5. Measurements above this are considered irregular, and typically signal an infection for which medical treatment is usually required.
Why Women Use Feminine pH Test Strips
Women experiencing symptoms such as vaginal itching, a burning sensation when urinating, and unusual vaginal discharge can sometimes determine if they have a yeast infection and treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medication.
However, these symptoms are also synonymous with BV and over-the-counter medications will do nothing to treat it. Because the symptoms of BV and yeast infections are so similar an at-home vaginal pH test is an easy way to determine which you might be suffering from.
For example, a pH level over 4.5 can signal BV, which requires antibiotics as treatment, whereas the presence of the above-mentioned symptoms with a pH level of 4.0 to 4.5 may indicate a yeast infection, which may be treated without antibiotics.
Can Home Vaginal pH Tests Diagnose Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
No. At-home vaginal pH tests cannot diagnose sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV, or syphilis. Although your healthcare provider will use a similar vaginal pH test as part of your check-up for STIs, additional tests such as physical examinations and blood tests are also required.
How To Use a Vaginal pH Test at Home
Within an at-home vaginal pH test kit, you will generally find a piece of pH test paper and a color chart against which to compare your results and decipher your vaginal pH. (Some kits only include a result that reads normal or abnormal,so if you are looking for clear pH readings, check the contents of your test kit before purchasing.)
Before you begin, open the pH color chart so that you can clearly see it and easily use it for reference later.
- Before touching the piece of pH test paper, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Holding the handle of the swab with your thumb and first finger, remove the piece of pH paper from the package, and be careful that it does not touch anything.
- Open the lips of your vagina with your free hand and angle the swab so that when inserted the pH paper rests against the inner wall of your vagina.
- After 5 seconds, gently remove the swab, ensuring that the paper does not come into contact with anything else.
How To Understand the Results of a Vaginal pH Test
If you have a pH color reference chart, compare the results of the test paper against it to determine your vaginal pH levels. On a pH scale from 1 to 14, a normal vaginal pH measures between 3.8 and 4.5, which is moderately acidic.
Readings lower than 3.8 mean the vaginal pH is more acidic than normal and readings higher than 4.5 indicate that the vagina is more alkaline than it should be.
While an acidic vagina won’t cause an infection, it can lower fertility, since sperm flourishes in an alkaline environment. (The vaginal pH naturally rises during sex to provide the ideal alkaline environment for sperm and then drops to normal again afterward).
However an alkaline, or above-normal pH level (when not engaged in intercourse), typically signals the presence of BV. In this case, it is advised that you contact your healthcare provider for a confirmed diagnosis and antibiotic treatment.
As mentioned earlier though, not all vaginal infections result in pH alterations. So just because your vaginal pH is normal, or just below normal, does not necessarily mean that you do not have an infection.
Yeast infections, for instance, rarely alter the vaginal pH levels in any significant way, yet symptoms like itching, burning, and vaginal discharge can still occur. In this case, over-the-counter medications are usually enough to treat the symptoms.
Additional Help for Treating Bacterial Vaginosis & Yeast Infections
While antibiotics are usually necessary to treat BV, some simple lifestyle changes and two specific natural supplements can also help you to recover faster and prevent the risk of recurring vaginal infections.
1. Lifestyle Changes
Refrain from douching and instead wash the vulva (the outer part of the genitals) daily with warm water & soap. Practice safe sex with new partners until they have been tested for STIs.
Wear loose pants to prevent bacteria from thriving, and work on reducing your stress levels with yoga, exercise, or meditation. Change out of damp clothing or wet swimsuits as quickly as possible and quit smoking.
2. Boric Acid Suppositories
Used for centuries in its natural form to treat and improve vaginal health, boric acid suppositories from Intimate Rose can be used in conjunction with antibiotics to treat BV. As well as soothing irritation and rebalancing the vaginal microflora, research has shown that a daily boric acid suppository can also prevent BV infections from recurring.
It is important to note that Boric Acid should never be taken orally or by pregnant women.
Recent studies into probiotics have shown promising results that they can significantly reduce the risk of BV infections, as well as yeast infections. Flora Bloom Probiotics for Women from Intimate Rose is a daily supplement that not only improves gut health, but also balances vaginal pH levels and prevents infections from taking hold.
Noticing symptoms such as vaginal itching, burning, or abnormal vaginal discharge could mean you have bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. Using a vaginal pH test at home can help to correctly diagnose your condition and ensure you receive the most effective treatment.
If you have never used a vaginal pH test at home before, follow our instructions for use above.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration – Home Use Vaginal pH Tests - https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/home-use-tests/vaginal-ph
National Library of Medicine - Evaluation of vaginal pH for detection of bacterial vaginosis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3818598/
Centers For Disease Control & Prevention - Bacteria Vaginosis - https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm
Mayo Clinic – Yeast Infection - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/yeast-infection/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20379004
Virtual Chembook – Elmhurst College - http://chemistry.elmhurst.edu/vchembook/184ph.html