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Fertility and Candida

Happy Fertile Friday!  A quick update first: it’s a time of transition for us as we nervously embark on the next stage of our journey. On Monday I’ll have my first ultrasound and start the FolliStim injections, and go from there. We’ll have ultrasounds every few days to see how the follicles are developing, then I think they do an HCG injection just prior to ovulation. It’s all brand new to me, so I’ll update as we go.

Today I thought I’d talk about fertility and Candida. Candida is a kind of yeast that everyone has in their gut – it is naturally occurring and totally normal to have. The problem is when it becomes overgrown, then it can have far-reaching effects in the body, including impacting fertility.

Certainly Candida overgrowth can also lead to chronic fatigue, digestive issues such as gas/ bloating/ loose stools, skin rashes/ eczema/ itchy skin, brain fog and a host of neurological issues. There are also the obvious vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush too.

Candida becomes overgrown in the belly under certain circumstances. If you are eating gluten or other foods you are sensitive or intolerant to, that will increase the chance of Candida. If you have taken multiple courses of antibiotics that have wiped out your beneificial flora, Candida can have taken hold. If you eat lots of sugary foods, you’re giving Candida its favorite meal. Even intestinal parasites and bacterial overgrowth in the gut can give rise to Candida overgrowth. Essentially, anything that causes inflammation in the gut, and/ or disturbs the natural gut flora, can lead to Candida overgrowth. Stress also weakens the immune system, which can allow Candida to flourish too.

So what does this have to do with fertility? Candida can be more of a systemic issue than just a digestive issue. If this is the case, it can interfere with fertility by making the cervical mucous hostile. It can change the consistency of it, and make it harder for sperm to penetrate into the uterus, which is where they need to be to fertilize the egg.  One does not have to have outright vaginal yeast infections for this to occur.

How do you know if you have Candida? Well a scan of the symptoms above can give you some clues. There’s another home-grown test that some people use – and that is to spit in a glass of water and see if there are strings that fall to the bottom. I’m not convinced of the accuracy of this test. There are also lab tests that will measure antibodies to candida, but my favorite is a test called the microbial Organic Acid Test from the Great Plains Laboratory. It measures something called arabinose, which is a metabolite of Candida. It’s a simple urine test you collect at home and send in to the lab. If arabinose is high, then you have a Candida issue of some degree.

Helping Fertility with Candida Treatment

I do anti-fungal herbs and essential oils in the first half of every cycle, just to make sure Candida is not an issue that could be getting in the way. I use oils such as oregano, clove, thyme and lemon (taken internally). Garlic is a great anti-fungal. I’ll typically also take a medication called Nystatin, which is a really safe, non-toxic anti-fungal medication. In the 2nd half of my cycle I do not take anti-fungals, because they would not be safe for the baby if I was pregnant.

Of course, many women trying to conceive take progesterone in the second half of their cycle, and progesterone feeds Candida and makes it worse!! Woops!! But none-the-less, it is important for many other reasons, so I do the progesterone in the second half, then the anti-fungals in the first half.

I would encourage other women who are trying to conceive to look at Candida as a possible element, especially if there don’t seem to be any other obvious causes of infertility. Ideally both partners would get treated with an anti-fungal regimen to prevent transmission back and forth.

If you’d like more specifics about the regimen I use, please feel free to email me and I’ll share it with you.

Have a wonderful weekend!