pH – measured on a scale from 0-14 with 0 being most acidic and 14 being most basic. While some pH fluctuation is natural and necessary as the vagina comes into contact with fluids such as blood and semen,too low a pH in the vagina (<3.5) can actually turn off lactobacillus production (good bacteria) required to keep the vagina in a healthy state, or over time even lead to a chronic infection (cytolytic vaginosis). The WHO has stated that vaginal products approaching pH 3 should not be used in the vagina. They recommend using only those products that are pH-matched to the healthy vagina at 3.8-4.5.
Osmolality – also referred to as the ion or salt concentration. Osmolality is the measure of dissolved particles per unit of water in a solution or serum. Our bodies are built to try to equalize osmolality across the vaginal mucosal barrier and will move water as needed in the process. Vaginal balancing gels that are hypo– or hypertonic (with too low or too high of a salt concentration relative to vaginal tissues) will cause water to be pushed into, or sucked out of, the vaginal cells. This forced movement of water changes vaginal cell shape and biology, leading to irritation, tissue damage, cell death, mucus dehydration, and increased risk of bacterial infections or STDs. Isotonic products (like IsoFresh) are perfectly matched to the salt concentration in the body, and as a result, cause no net movement of water.
Toxic Chemicals Used for Viscosity – used for thickness and moisture. Glycerol (glycerin) and propylene glycol, for example, are commonly used humectants that can keep gels moist and improve the consistency. These small, penetrating chemicals can cross the vaginal barrier and be extremely toxic to vaginal cells and friendly vaginal bacteria.
Parabens – parabens are preservatives that can cause irritation, vaginal cell damage and disruption to healthy vaginal bacteria.