Walk into any drugstore and you’ll see dozens of products advertised to clean and beautify that wonderful organ, the vagina. There are tons of benefits to staying healthy down there—from better sex to reduced itchiness and fewer infections, a happy V makes a happier you.

But does keeping your vagina healthy really have to be so…complicated? From vaginal sprays and washes to antimicrobial underwear and probiotic supplements, what’s the best way to maintain your vaginal hygiene?

The Vagina Is a Miraculous Organ

Your vagina is pretty magical. Just think about it all it goes through during the average person’s lifetime: hundreds of periods, thousands of sexual encounters, and childbirth, just to name a few big experiences! What if we told you your vagina is so great, it can even clean itself?

Your vagina houses a host of good bacteria, which is collectively known as the microbiota of your vagina. (1) The healthy bacteria housed in your vagina are typically lactobacillus species. Lactobacilli are responsible for producing lactic acid and keeping your vaginal pH mildly acidic, which helps to prevent the growth of bad bacteria which cause bacterial infections.

Your vaginal discharge has a purpose, too. Discharge helps to rinse your vagina of debris and bacteria that can increase your risk of infections, like dead cells and dangerous bacteria.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Vaginal pH

Now you might be wondering, if your vagina is so great it cleans itself, then why do you have to worry about its health? Your vagina doesn’t need a special cleaning routine, but it does need you to practice lifestyle habits that maintain its pH and help good bacteria to thrive.

Why does vaginal pH matter? Every single organ of your body has a specific environment they work best in. For example, some organs work best at a specific temperature—that’s why having a fever can be dangerous. Your organs each have an optimal pH level, too. pH is a measurement of the acidity level of an environment. A healthy vagina has a pH around 4.5. (2) This pH level keeps lactobacillus bacteria healthy and prevents bad bacteria growth.

Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, your vaginal pH can easily get off track, particularly if you:

  • Use scented soaps, sprays, or vaginal washes down there
  • Wear pads and tampons for longer than a few hours—ideally, pads and tampons should be changed several times a day when you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding
  • Douche
  • Have unprotected sex—semen has high pH, so having unprotected sex can increase your vaginal pH

Your hormone levels can also play a role in shifting vaginal pH, which is why some people experience vaginal discomfort, bacterial growth, or an increase in bacterial infections around their period or during pregnancy or menopause.

Balance Your Vaginal pH and Keep Your V Happy and Healthy

6 Tips To Balance Your Vaginal pH and Keep Your V Happy and Healthy

Vaginal pH imbalance can increase your risk of common vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis, vaginal yeast infections, and urinary tract infections. (3) Luckily, there are simple ways to balance your vaginal pH and keep you—and your vagina!—happy and healthy. Check out our top 6 tips to maintain your vaginal pH and prevent infections.

Tip #1: Add Probiotics to Your Diet

You might have heard of probiotics in food sources like kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha, but what are probiotics, really? In short, probiotics are good bacteria that support your body’s natural processes. Probiotics species include lactobacillus, the bacteria found in your vagina. Probiotics are hard working bacteria—they fight bad bacteria, improve digestive health, strengthen the immune system, and support your vaginal health.

How do probiotics work? Lactobacilli bacteria produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which keeps the vaginal environment mildly acidic and unfavorable for bad bacteria. (4)

Probiotics are especially helpful for prevention of bacterial vaginosis, one of the most common vaginal infections. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your vagina, so eating probiotic foods or taking probiotic supplements can help support the growth of good bacteria and prevent bacterial vaginosis from developing.

Food items such as yogurt, kefir, miso, pickles, and sauerkraut are natural sources of probiotics. Probiotics for vaginal health can help improve vaginal pH if you don’t get enough probiotics in your diet.

Tip #2: Make Berries Your Bestie

Berries are truly superfoods! They have a high number of antioxidants such as proanthocyanidins, which help you fight inflammation. (5) They’re rich in Vitamin A, C, K, and fiber. Along with innumerable health benefits, berries, especially cranberries and elderberries, play a significant role in maintaining your vaginal health.

Berries support your vaginal health by:

  • Keeping your body and vagina hydrated due to their high vitamin C content
  • Reducing the risk of vaginal or cervical cancer due to their high antioxidant content
  • Inhibiting the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis by boosting your immune system function
  • Preventing the development of a urinary tract infection (6)
  • Fighting off bad bacteria with bioflavonoids

If you struggle to consume enough berries in your diet, try taking cranberry pills for BV, which can help prevent bacterial vaginosis infections and relieve uncomfortable symptoms.

Tip #3: Keep it Clean and Dry Down There

Moist, wet, and warm environments create optimal conditions for bad bacteria to thrive, so it’s important to keep your vulva dry throughout the day. Wearing underwear made of material that’s less breathable and absorbent, such as satin or silk underwear instead of cotton underwear, can cause unwanted bacteria to grow.

Keep it Clean and Dry Down There

To support a natural balance of good bacteria and prevent unwanted infections like vaginal yeast infections, try:

  • Changing out of wet swimsuits immediately after swimming
  • Switching out damp underwear after exercising
  • Wearing breathable cotton underwear instead of satin, silk, or spandex
  • Sleeping naked (as if you needed a reason!)
  • Changing pads and tampons frequently during your period

Keeping your vagina and vulva dry will support your reproductive health and help you have a happy v.

Tip #4: Avoid Douching—Yes, Really

One in five women in the U.S. regularly douche. (7) Douching is the practice of cleansing your vagina (not your vulva) with strong soaps or other feminine hygiene products or solutions. Even though this is an incredibly common practice, doctors advise against it, since douching can wash away good bacteria along with the bad.

Women who douche likely do it to cleanse the vagina after sex or periods, remove unwanted odors, or relieve discomfort from vaginal itching or irritation, but douching does more harm than good. The vagina can clean itself, remember?

The health issues associated with douching include bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, vaginal dryness, issues getting pregnant, and a lot more. (8) Trust your vagina to keep itself clean and you’ll prevent unnecessary work and unwanted infections.

Tip #5: Add Some Colors to Your Meal

A balanced, colorful plate has tons of health benefits, from maintaining hormone levels and a healthy weight to, you guessed it, keeping your vagina healthy! Different-colored foods provide different nutritional benefits and supply your body with all necessary vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. For example:

  • Eating apples and avocados keeps your vagina naturally lubricated. Additionally, the vitamins and minerals present in these fruits reduces premenstrual symptoms such as pain and cramps and strengthens the muscles of your pelvic floor and vagina.
  • Fortifying your diet with lots of greens keeps your vagina hydrated and boosts immune system function.
  • Consuming apples and bananas can boost your sexual functionality.
  • Filling your diet with vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut, and silage can supply you with lactobacillic probiotics and maintain vaginal pH. (9)

A healthy diet can also support vaginal health by helping you to maintain a healthy weight and prevent diseases like diabetes. Diabetes can increase your likelihood of developing yeast infections or urinary tract infections. (10)

Tip #6: Multiple Sex Partners Mean Multiple Vaginal Care Steps

In case you enjoy having multiple sex partners at once, it’s important you go the extra mile to keep your vagina healthy and happy. The greater number of sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to develop vaginal infections, including sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, having multiple female sexual partners can increase your risk of developing bacterial vaginosis specifically. (11) Your infection risk increases for a few key reasons:

  • The presence of semen in the vagina can disrupt your natural pH balance
  • Condoms containing latex can irritate your vaginal muscles
  • The more partners you have, the greater amount of foreign bacteria you’re introducing to your fragile vaginal environment

Everyone wants to have fun in bed without worrying about contracting any infections. To keep yourself safe and infection-free, try:

  • Using sex toys made of silicone, and clean them after each use
  • Rinsing your vagina after having sex by using the bathroom. If you’d like to feel extra clean, gently rinse your vulva with water
  • Giving up douching
  • Practicing safe sex by always using condoms, dental dams, or other barrier methods that prevent the transfer of bacteria. Condoms can also keep your vaginal pH balanced during sex since they prevent semen from entering your vagina

With some extra care and attention, you can keep your vagina healthy, no matter what your sexual preferences are.

Get a Healthy V With Support From Happy V

Keeping your vagina healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. At Happy V, our goal is to help you feel empowered and educated about simple ways to support your vaginal health. Our products help prevent and treat infections that disrupt your sex life and make you uncomfortable—because everyone deserves a happy v.