Dr. Peter Rizk, OB-GYN and women’s health consultant for Fairhaven Health, tells Bustle: "Taking an oral probiotic supplement works to tip the pH scale back in your favor by re-populating friendly bacteria, with the result of lowering pH back into a healthy range, which will reduce the chance that yeast and bad bacteria will take hold."
If you're new to probiotics, here's how they work: Probiotics introduce colonies of healthy bacteria into your system; colonies that are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs). And, while it may at first seem like the more CFUs a probiotic has, the better health outcomes it'll have, you can still see pH-balancing benefits from probiotics with fewer CFUs.
As for how you measure your pH balance, there are some vaginal pH testing kits that you can buy online. But, you'll get the most reliable and accurate results if you visit a doctor.
What is a healthy vaginal pH balance? Dr. Rizk tells Bustle, "You will know you are striking this balance when your vaginal pH is on the acidic side of the pH scale, about 4 — the same pH as your favorite red wine! When your vaginal pH is in the proper range, more vaginal cells are triggered to grow and be exfoliated, more glycogen and amylase are produced, and more good bacteria create more lactic acid, which balances the vaginal ecosystem."
Dr. Rizk recommends that women look for a probiotic made in the U.S. with clean ingredients and without known irritants like gluten or soy. Before taking a new probiotic, it's always a good idea to check with your doctor, especially if you have any existing health issues or allergies. See below for the three best probiotics for pH balance.