It is no secret that the female body goes through a number of changes during pregnancy, from physical and emotional to chemical and hormonal. Afterall, your body is housing another human being and preparing itself for labor. With that said, pregnancy can cause fluctuations to your vaginal pH balance, causing levels to be out-of-whack, affecting your vaginal microbiome.
What is a Vaginal Microbiome You Ask?
A vaginal microbiome is the community of different bacteria living harmoniously in the vagina. When in balance, the vagina maintains a low, acidic pH that protects the good bacteria and allows it to thrive while killing off harmful bacteria. When vaginal pH balance is out of range, it can lead to an imbalance of bacteria and yeast levels, causing all sorts of womanly problems, including yeast infections, bacterial infections, BV, and more. A normal vaginal pH level for a pregnant woman is slightly acidic, in the range between 3.8 and 4.5. During pregnancy, maintaining an acidic vaginal environment is key to keep the vagina clean and infection-free.
Yeast infections and other bacterial infections are very common during pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations. The pH balance, however, provides a natural barrier against harmful bacteria. A pH balance below 4.5 indicates that certain types of bacteria are multiplying in the vagina that may cause preterm labor. Always check with your OBGYN if you have any irregular symptoms including an unpleasant odor or itch. Most uncomplicated vaginal infections are easily treatable.
It is important to mention that an imbalanced vaginal pH can also cause some fertility issues. pH levels that are too low can cause infertility because sperm thrives in a more alkaline environment. Sperm travels through the vagina and the cervical canal before reaching the fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg. If there is an imbalance, it could cause damage to the sperm to prevent it from fertilizing the egg. During ovulation, pH levels rise and surges in hormones are meant to maintain a pH level that is optimal to increase the chance that sperm reaches the egg. In fact, when the vaginal pH levels are increasingly high, (between 7 and 12), sperm can survive up to 48 hours within the female reproductive system. Cool huh?
Tips to Keep Your Vagina's pH Balanced During or Before Pregnancy
Fluctuations in pH balance are very normal, especially during pregnancy. OBGYN's all recommend taking probiotics along with prenatal vitamins to keep you and your baby healthy.
- Eat probiotics- Whether in a supplement or gummy form or in foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and raw sauerkraut.
- Wear cotton underwear
- Practice good feminine hygiene
- Maintain a healthy diet that low in sugar and high in probiotics
- Use condoms during sex
- Drink tons of water