How to use a vaginal pH test at home

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Your gynecologist may have checked your vaginal pH many times. This allows your healthcare provider to determine the acidity or alkalinity of your vaginal secretions. Why is it important for them to know this information, and why should you study it, too?

Get Drug Information / Cho Zixuan Zhou

Test targets

You can check your vaginal pH level if you experience unusual vaginal symptoms such as itching, burning, a bad vaginal odor, or abnormal vaginal discharge .

This can help you decide if you need treatment. However, you need to understand that a home test will not diagnose HIV , chlamydia , herpes , gonorrhea , syphilis , or group B strep.

Often times when women experience unusual vaginal symptoms, the first thing that comes to mind is a yeast infection . If you have vaginal symptoms that you think may indicate a yeast infection, this test can help rule out other types of infections.

Before treating yourself with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, it may be helpful to confirm the diagnosis with your healthcare provider.

Test instructions

A home vaginal pH test kit usually includes a sheet of pH test paper and a color chart to determine your vaginal pH results. To perform the test, apply a test paper to the vaginal wall and compare the color change with a control chart .

How to get a vaginal pH swab

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Use the handle to remove the pH swab from the packaging. Do not let the pH paper come in contact with anything.
  3. Hold the handle of the swab between your thumb and forefinger with the test strip toward your thumb.
  4. With your free hand, part your lips.
  5. Insert the swab into the vagina, tilting it so that the paper is in full contact with the vaginal wall.
  6. Hold for 5 seconds.
  7. Remove the swab, being careful not to touch the paper.

interpretation of results

If your test came with a color reference chart, compare the color of the strip to get a pH value. Other tests will only read "normal" (white) or "abnormal" (blue / green).

For reference color sets, vaginal acidity / alkalinity is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. Normal vaginal pH is 3.8 to 4.5 (slightly acidic). Abnormal values are those that are above or below this range. Higher ranges are more alkaline; the lower ranges are more acidic.

Abnormal vaginal pH often indicates the presence of a vaginal infection. However, you should know that not all vaginal infections cause changes in vaginal pH. This means that having a normal vaginal pH test does not necessarily mean that you do not have a vaginal infection.

If your vaginal pH is above normal, you most likely have bacterial vaginosis (BV) and not a yeast infection. If this is the case, do not use OTC medications for vaginal yeast infections because they will not treat your BV. Instead, you will need to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

On the other hand, if your vaginal pH is normal or below normal and you have previously been diagnosed with vaginal yeast infections as directed by your doctor, you can try one of the over-the-counter vaginal yeast infections . If this doesn't help clear up vaginal symptoms or infection, see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Frequently asked questions

  • A vaginal pH test is an easy way to determine how acidic or alkaline your vaginal discharge is. An elevated pH level can indicate a vaginal infection.

  • A vaginal pH test involves a paper test strip that changes color when passed through the vagina. The test strip is then compared to a color reference chart that measures the pH of the vagina on a scale of 1 to 14. Normal vaginal pH is 3.8 to 4.5. Any value below 3.8 or above 4.5 is considered abnormal.

  • The vaginal pH test only measures the acidity of the vagina. It cannot accurately diagnose any disease, although a high pH (greater than 4.5) can indicate bacterial vaginosis (BV) , especially when accompanied by symptoms .

  • No. You may have a vaginal infection, but the pH is still normal. This is especially true if you have a yeast infection . If you have symptoms of a vaginal infection of any kind, see your doctor regardless of the test results.

  • They are almost identical. With that being said, your healthcare provider may perform other tests and tests to better diagnose and treat any infections (including sexually transmitted infections ).

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