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What is a Vaginal PH Balance Test?

What is a Vaginal PH Balance Test?

Are you looking for a simple and straightforward way to assess your vaginal health? If you are, then you might find it helpful to use a vaginal pH balance test. Here’s what you need to know about it.

What to Expect During a Vaginal Exam

First of all, what is pH?

PH (potential of hydrogen) describes how acidic or basic a substance is. It’s indicated by numbers 1 to 14; the lower the number, the more acidic.

The vagina is slightly acidic, with a pH of 3.8 to 4.5, which is moderately acidic. Numbers lower than 3.8 (extremely acidic) or higher than 7 (basic) can indicate a problem. To ascertain your vaginal pH, a pH testing kit will come in handy.

The advantage of using a vaginal pH balance test

Before we proceed with the procedures for the self-testing kit, let’s first talk about its advantage. When would it be advantageous for a woman to check her vaginal pH?

According to reports, checking your vaginal acidity is useful when you experience symptoms in your genital area. Examples of these symptoms include:

These signs often indicate an infection; however, other factors, such as the use of harsh feminine care products, can also lead to these symptoms.

vaginal ph balance test

When you didn’t change anything in your feminine care routine—meaning, your symptoms are not likely due to products—it’s only normal to suspect an infection.

But, what kind of infection?

This is where a self-testing kit becomes useful. With a vaginal pH balance test, you can at least have an idea if your symptoms occur due to a yeast infection or they happen because of bacterial vaginosis.

Important: the test will not help diagnose HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, or group B streptococcus infection.

How to use a vaginal pH testing kit

The instructions for a self-test kit vary from product to product. Generally, your kit includes a pH paper and a color chart, which you can use for comparison. To use the test, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. Take the pH paper from its container, ensuring that the indicator tip will not touch anything.
  3. Spread your vaginal lips (labia) and insert the pH paper; make sure that the tip comes in full contact with your vaginal wall.
  4. Likewise, if your kit comes with a cotton stick, this is what you’ll have to gently insert in your vagina. Afterward, you need to wipe the cotton stick to the pH paper.
  5. Wait for a few seconds (as per package instruction) before you pull out or observe the pH paper. Again, make sure that it won’t touch anything.
  6. Compare the color of your pH paper with that of the chart included in your kit.

Some charts only say results are “normal” if the pH paper is white and “abnormal” if it turns blue or green. Other charts have a bunch of colors with corresponding numbers (pH value). In this case, you need to look for the closest color that matches your pH paper. Remember that vaginal pH usually is 3.8 to 4.5.

Interpreting the results

Abnormal vaginal pH may indicate an infection. If the result turns out basic (higher than 4.5), you might have bacterial vaginosis (BV). If the result is too acidic (lower than 3.8), you might have a yeast infection.

In case you get an abnormal result, some vaginal pH balance test kits recommend that you repeat the procedure after a few hours or the next day. If you keep on getting abnormal pH values, the best course of action is to consult your doctor so you can get a proper diagnosis.

Call your physician, too, if you get normal values but still manifest symptoms. This is because some kinds of infection do not affect vaginal pH. In fact, a normal pH can still be indicative of a yeast infection.

Do I Have BV or Yeast Infection? – How to Tell Them Apart

Key Takeaways

According to studies, a vaginal pH testing kit is a reliable way of determining your vaginal pH, which can be used to check if there’s an infection. However, it cannot replace a doctor’s diagnosis.

Learn more about Screening and Tests for Women here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Vaginal pH
https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/home-use-tests/vaginal-ph#:~:text=How%20do%20you%20do%20this,is%20the%20vaginal%20pH%20number.
Accessed December 15, 2020

Tests for Bacterial Vaginosis
https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw3367
Accessed December 15, 2020

ACCURACY AND TRUST OF SELF-TESTING FOR BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3457017/
Accessed December 15, 2020

Evaluation of vaginal pH for detection of bacterial vaginosis
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3818598/
Accessed December 15, 2020

Experience with routine vaginal pH testing in a family practice setting.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1784594/
Accessed December 15, 2020

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Feb 26
Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, M.D.
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