Study: the impact of temperature and pH on biofilm formation – it matters!

The human vagina has an average temperature of about 37.5 °C (99.5 °F) and a healthy pH range of between 3.8 and 4.5.

A study looked at biofilm formation of a few different bacteria at 30°C and 37°C, and a pH of 5.5, 7.5 and 8.5.

Findings of the study

Bacterial strains studied were 

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Vibrio cholerae

These bacteria are known to cause i) general infections in humans including skin and ear infections, ii) pneumonia, and iii) cholera. These bacteria are known to produce biofilms.

The impact of temperature on biofilm production

A decrease in biofilm production was observed at 37°C in eight of the tested strains, compared to production at 30°C. Biofilm production still existed at both temperatures. At normal human vaginal temperatures, biofilm activity exists.

Five of the strains tested had increased biofilm activity at 37°C compared to at 30°C.

The impact of pH on biofilm production

The increases in biofilm formation from a pH of 5.5 were sometimes up to 300 per cent. Increased pH (more alkaline) lead to higher biofilm production.

The results are clear – alkaline pH encourages biofilm formation.


Temperature and pH affect the production of bacterial biofilm, Folia Microbiologica, 2010, Volume 55, Number 1, Page 75, A. Hoštacká, I. Čižnár, M. Štefkovičová

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)