Few things are as frustrating for a couple as experiencing difficulty conceiving for an extended period of time. In many cases, determining the cause of this delay is just as frustrating. Sometimes, optimal fertility can come down to whether or not your partner’s sperm has a comfortable environment. This is all about your pH levels.
Below, learn how pH levels affect fertility.
How Do pH Levels Affect My Fertility?
The pH levels of the fluids in our bodies are an easily overlooked part of fertility. While the human body overall is able to tolerate fluctuations in pH levels, a major drop in these levels can create big problems for sperm. Sperm prefers an alkaline environment, as opposed to an acidic environment. In other words, sperm thrives when higher pH levels are present.
The Environment Sperm Need to Survive
Before sperm can successfully fertilize an egg, they must swim through the vagina and cervical canal before traveling into the fallopian tubes. If the environment in the vagina and cervix is unfavorable for any ejaculated sperm, they may be unable to reach an egg to fertilize it. As a result, a couple may have trouble getting pregnant.
Ideally, a woman’s vaginal pH will levels range from 3.8 – 4.5 for most of her cycle. Then, during ovulation, luteinizing hormonal surges are meant to keep vaginal pH levels within the 7 to 14 range. These levels are considered to be within the alkaline range, and are non-toxic to sperm. These help them survive for up to 48 hours inside a woman’s reproductive system.
However, there are outside influences that can reduce the pH levels of our body and bodily fluids. Unfortunately, lowered pH levels can weaken and even kill sperm. In turn, this prevents them from reaching an ovulated egg and fertilizing it.
What Raises The pH Levels Of Bodily Fluids?
- Elevated or reduced hormone levels
- Use of certain prescription medications
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Use of lubricants that are toxic to sperm
While each of these factors can impact pH levels, it’s believed that the #1 culprit of reduced levels is diet. Many of America’s favorite foods – such as burgers, pizza, sugary drinks, white sugar and flour, junk food and processed foods – are ranked as “acidic” foods. All are likely to lower the body’s pH level overall. Unfortunately, this reduction can push our body’s overall pH levels into the “acidic” range. While this is not necessarily problematic overall, it can effect on any sperm that comes into contact with bodily fluids. If your body pH is too low, your cervical mucus will also be more acidic than alkaline. It is likely to create an environment that sperm cannot survive in for long.
How Can I Find Out If My pH Levels Are Affecting My Fertility?
The only way to know for sure if pH levels are affecting your fertility is to test them. Fortunately, testing them is extremely easy: there are s sold over-the-counter that you can use in the privacy of your own home to determine vaginal pH. Local drug stores, and various websites sell pH testing s and vaginal pH strips, many of which cost $20 or less. (One noteworthy point is that it’s best to test this during or close to ovulation.)
If it turns out that your levels are on the low side of the scale, you should visit with a doctor to discuss your findings. Ideally, your doctor will take a full history and provide you with recommendations for adjustments in diet, exercise, or otherwise that are likely to address the source of your elevated pH levels. In most cases, doctors will recommend reducing the amount of sugar in your daily diet, and will advise patients to primarily eat alkaline foods instead, as these are thought to reduce acidity levels.
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