How Vaginal pH Can Affect Fertility

pH affects fertility

When you have a baby on your mind, it can be especially frustrating to have only a few days each month to get pregnant. And it’s even worse when you miss a whole fertility cycle because of a problem such as a yeast or bacterial infection. Too low or too high pH levels in our bodies are important and often overlooked factors when it comes to trying to conceive.

What is Considered Normal for Vaginal pH?

Our reproductive system is built to create and sustain different pH levels throughout the cycle. The vagina is naturally acidic during much of a woman’s monthly cycle which is helpful for killing harmful bacteria and preventing infection.This acidic state comes from healthy bacteria that produce lactic acid to keep the vaginal ecosystem at a tightly controlled acidic environment (pH ~4.5).  Women are born with these healthy bacteria which are given to them by their mothers.

Acidic environments, however, cause big problems for sperm. Sperm needs an alkaline environment to be able to survive more than a couple of hours and swim to fertilize the egg. The woman’s body generally takes care of adjusting the pH to a sperm-friendly level (pH ~7) by releasing fertile cervical mucus (which has this same exact pH of ~7) during ovulation. The rising estrogen levels during ovulation cause large shifts in the quantity and pH of cervical mucus to create the fertile cervical mucus which actually forms molecular pathways for the sperm to swim through to reach the egg!

This normal monthly fluctuation in vaginal pH from the acidic non-ovulating pH to the higher fertile pH are usually managed by a woman’s body without a problem. However, returning the vagina to a healthy low pH after ovulation can become more challenging for TTCers. The increased exposure to semen (~7 pH) during baby-making, not to mention the stress of trying to conceive, creates extra work for the vagina’s self cleaning and balancing mechanisms. Add to this other outside factors that disrupt hormonal balance (PCOS, fertility medications, toxins, smoking, and weight changes), and all of a sudden it is much harder for the vaginal ecosystem to bounce back. It is very important to support your body’s return to a healthy acidic pH level between fertile windows so you can move forward on your journey to conception and a healthy pregnancy.

What if My pH Level Stays Elevated After My Fertile Window?

The increased exposure to semen (~7 pH) during baby-making can tax the vagina’s self cleaning and balancing mechanisms. Additionally, not long after the fertile window, the vaginal ecosystem pH becomes more neutral (~7 pH) during your period. Constant exposure to a neutral pH (~7 pH) can eventually overwhelm the acidic environment of the vagina and may lead to odors, or even serious diseases (bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis, postpartum infections), increased STD/HIV rates, preterm labor (van de Wijgert et al., 2014), and perhaps even increased levels of preterm birth (Critchfield et al 2013). Women with disruptions in the vaginal ecosystem and pH have recently been reported to have decreased fertility and a longer time to successful conception. Delays in your journey to pregnancy become real when pH is out of kilter.

What Can I Do to Keep the Proper pH Fluctuations During My Cycle?

Your bodies’ ability to keep the necessary pH balance in the vagina can be thrown off by increased exposure to sperm, diet, PCOS, medications, stress, toxins, smoking, weight changes and last but not least douching (please ditch the douche).

IsoFresh Balancing Gel, a natural douche alternative is designed for all women who want to eliminate odor and can be especially helpful to quickly restore vaginal pH balance for women who are trying to conceive.