Without a background in medicine, it can be difficult to tell how healthy your vagina is. Changes in discharge happen throughout your menstrual cycle, and the natural aging process can add variables into the mix. To standardize the process of diagnosing vaginal health, the medical community uses a rubric called the vaginal health index. Even without a medical degree, we can all learn some telltale signs of a healthy—or unhealthy—vagina.
How the Vaginal Health Index Works
The vaginal health index scores five different signs of vaginal health on a one-to-five ranking system. The lower your score, the more unhealthy your vaginal tissue is. This scoring system helps doctors to diagnose the severity of genitourinary syndrome of menopause (formerly known as vulvovaginal atrophy). Based on the severity of the syndrome, your doctor may recommend different treatment options. For post-menopausal women especially, treatment is necessary since these symptoms rarely go away on their own and, in most cases, tend to worsen.
What Indicates Vaginal Health—and What Does Not
The five categories that doctors use to judge vaginal health are elasticity, fluid secretion, pH, epithelial integrity, and moisture. The terms are a little bit technical, so let’s talk about what they mean individually.
When measuring elasticity, the doctor wants to gauge the vaginal skin’s ability to stretch and then return to its original shape. Fluid secretion is judged by a visual inspection for shiny discharge. Normal fluid secretion is white or clear, while poor fluid secretion is thin and yellow or not observable. A test for pH balance is performed with a pH indicator strip, and anything at 4.5 or below is considered healthy. However, pH levels rise as you age, so women who have begun menopause will likely be in the 5.0-7.0 range of pH. When determining epithelial (meaning the outer layer of skin) integrity, doctors are looking for petechiae (spots that show evidence of trauma or bleeding). A healthy vagina can be lightly scraped and not bleed, but if the epithelial integrity has been compromised, petechiae will be observed or the skin will bleed even from very light contact. Lastly, moisture is judged on a scale from none to normal. If there is no moisture, the skin will likely be inflamed, too.
Determining Your Vaginal Health
The best way to know if your vagina is functioning properly is a visit to the OB/GYN. Since they are in the habit of observing vaginas, they can easily pick out signs of vaginal fitness. However, it’s a good idea for you to get to know your vagina too, so that you will be able to notice fluctuations. Using a mirror to check for elasticity, fluid secretion, and moisture can help you understand your baseline vaginal health. Plus, you can easily pick up pH strips at the drugstore to find out how alkaline or acidic the moisture in your vagina is. Taking a peek at how your vagina looks when it feels healthy or normal to you will prepare you to notice changes as they arise.
Returning Your Vagina to Optimal Health
For post-menopausal women, a decrease in vaginal health doesn’t usually correct itself. However, there’s no reason to live with the aggravating, painful symptoms of vaginal dryness. Estrogen is a common treatment, but many women don’t want the risks of long-term hormone use. Membrasin® Vitality Pearls offer a hormone-free option for vaginal moisture support. Membrasin® supplements are non-GMO, gluten-free, 100% plant based, soy-free, and cruelty-free, so they are suitable for almost any diet. Try the only clinically proven vaginal moisture supplement today!