Is it thrush or a pH imbalance?

Many women assume that vaginal discharge signals a thrush or yeast infection. But very few know that an imbalance of vaginal pH is twice as common as thrush and may be the cause of discharge.

What is pH?

The level of acidity or alkalinity is measured by determining the pH level. Pure water has a pH level of 7 and is neutral pH. Levels below pH 7 are acidic and levels above 7 are alkaline. 

What is a pH imbalance?

The vaginal environment contains many micro organisms or flora living in balance. Lactobacillus is the main normal vaginal flora and plays an important role in female health. It produces lactic acid and keeps the vaginal environment slightly acidic (normally lower than pH 4.5). The acidity of the vagina helps control bacteria and prevents the overgrowth of infection-causing types of bacteria which prefer a higher pH. This provides an effective natural protection for the vagina against infection and irritation as the majority of harmful micro-organisms cannot survive at a low pH. Many factors such as washing with an alkaline soap, sexual intercourse, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, antibiotics, menopause and stress can increase the vaginal pH, disrupt the natural balance and may cause vaginal symptoms.

What is thrush?

Thrush is an infection of the vagina that is caused by a yeast known as Candida albicans. While most yeasts found in the vagina are harmless, an overgrowth of Candida albicans can lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms. These may include itching and soreness around the vagina, combined with a thick and lumpy discharge. Most women will experience thrush at least once in their lifetime. A thrush or yeast infection can survive in a low pH and usually does not cause an increase in the vaginal pH.

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