Suzi asks founder of HealthRock Dr. Machelle Seibel about menstruation, infection and the pH connection.
-Suzi Kirsh, BettyConfidential.com
Dr. Mache Seibel, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and founder of HealthRock, has written a little jingle to help women understand that there's a pH connection to vaginal infection. During our cycle, menstrual fluids increase the pH of our hoo-has, so the balance that normally protects us becomes one that infects us, and abnormal pH is the reason why. The BV song explains this in greater detail. Y'all ready to rock-and-roll?
Guess what girls
You could have bacterial vaginosis
If your vagai-gai makes you itch at night
With an odor that's not right
You might think yeast is what it must be
But 2 out of 3 times you're wrong - you've got BV
BV is Bacterial Vaginosis
Unbalanced pH caused the diagnosis
Restore the balance and you will be
Refreshed and stay, BV free
Restore pH and stay BV free
pH is a measure of the acidity of the vaginal environment. A happy vagina has a pH of typically 3.5 to 4.5. This pH is ideal for beneficial bacteria and creates a hostile environment for pathogenic bacteria that cause odor and infection. A healthy pH helps beneficial bacteria to thrive and prevents overgrowth of yeast and pathogenic bacteria.
Changes in vaginal pH as a result of common "pH triggers" make women more susceptible to infections such as bacterial vaginosis (BV). Understanding how the delicate environment of the vagina responds to pH fluctuation helps doctors prevent and treat these conditions. Some of the most common pH triggers that make the vaginal environment more susceptible to infection include:
- Tampons that absorb menstrual fluids for an extended period of time
- Douching without balancing pH afterwards, douching with fragrances, or using scented soaps or and hot tubs
- Feminine products that contain deodorants
- Hormone fluctuations such as those that occur during menopause or pregnancy
"Consider the pH balance of a swimming pool," says Dr. Seibel. "The right balance must be achieved between chlorine and water in order to keep fungi and other bacteria from growing. The body is an infinitely more complicated system, but the same science applies. Keeping the pH environment of the vagina in balance helps prevent infection."
Blood has a pH of 7.4, so during your period your vaginal pH becomes elevated by menstrual fluids. Tampons can contribute to an elevated pH as they retain the fluids that cause pH to increase. The changing pH is part of the reason why many women who suffer from recurrent infections find that their period is often the event that sets them in motion.
Women shouldn't avoid using tampons, but Dr. Seibel suggests using the lowest absorbency possible, and he adds that it is also important that the tampon is changed every 4 to 8 hours to reduce the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
When pH becomes elevated, the vaginal environment shifts in favor of the pathogenic bacteria, allowing unwanted bacteria to cause odor, irritation and possibly infection. Elevated pH is one of the key factors doctors look for when diagnosing vaginal infections. Maintaining vaginal pH within the healthy range can help reduce risk of infections.
Symptoms of a yeast infection include itching and burning, with an odorless vaginal discharge that is sometimes thick. Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis are often similar, although the discharge produced typically has a fishy odor, especially after sex. Many women mistake BV for yeast infections because they are less familiar with it.
Women who assume they have yeast infections look for an over-the-counter "quick fix" to self-treat their problems "down there", but could be doing more harm than good. Less than one-third who think they have a yeast infection actually do. Scientific studies show that two thirds instead suffer from BV!
Untreated BV can cause premature birth and puts women at a significantly higher risk for urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and even sexually transmitted diseases. Once contracted, BV must be treated with antibiotics, making prevention more important than ever. And listen up, ladies! If you take antibiotics, they can lead you right to a yeast infection and the uncomfortable cycle of infections begins.
"The connection between pH and infection is extremely clear," says Dr. Seibel. "Restore pH and stay BV free" Yippee! www.DoctorSeibel.com
So, spread the word and share my sexy secrets!
Suzi KirshMore from BettyConfidential.com:
Miss America 2011 Q&A!
On Workplace Romances
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