What My Doctors Didn't Tell Me About Chronic Yeast Infections
For years, I've suffered from chronic yeast infections and overgrowths. I first noticed them in my early teens and still suffer from yeast-related digestive issues to this day. There was a time in my life when I was having yeast infections lasting one or two weeks every month for years. I'm turning 25 next month, and I have already had at least 40 vaginal yeast infections.
You may be thinking, "Ew, TMI. Why is she telling us this?!" But if you're one of the women who suffer from chronic recurrent yeast infections, you know that this is an embarrassing ailment that almost no one discusses. Even doctors only spend 5 to 10 minutes discussing it with you when you visit their offices. It's isolating and depressing.
I am here to tell you that you're not alone. I am also here to tell you that there's relief, and I found it at home without prescription medications.
After 10 years and thousands of dollars in doctor visits, I've discovered the reason for my chronic, recurrent yeast infections and moderate to severe digestive issues. It was a long, slow process that only came about by listening to my body and learning how it functions. Too often we load our bodies with chemicals and prescriptions to mask symptoms without ever pursuing the root cause. Our bodies are always communicating with us, but we rarely stop to listen and understand.
As I started to track my cycle as a means of birth control, I began to noticed that my digestive flare-ups and yeast issues took place every two weeks — from about a week and a half before my period to a few days into my period. This couldn't be a coincidence. I began exploring the female hormonal cycle and found some fascinating information that made everything so clear.
What I learned is something that all women should be aware of, since they're living in a human female body. After ovulation (about two weeks, or halfway into your menstrual cycle) the hormone progesterone begins to spike, increasing rapidly from about day 10 to about day 22 of a woman's cycle. From here, progesterone begins to decrease and a woman has her period within the next few days. As a result of this increase in progesterone, the natural ecosystem (i.e. digestive flora) of the gastrointestinal tract changes temporarily, making a woman more susceptible to yeast overgrowths and therefore bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and more. I also started tracking my own cycle, and found this to be true.
When I discovered this information I was so happy that I nearly cried. Ten years of searching and suffering, and I finally have an answer.
Now that we know this information, we have to decide how to compensate for these cyclical yeast flare-ups. Here's how I manage my yeast related issues — From about day 10 of my cycle to about day 25 I limit or completely eliminate grains, sugars (yes, even fruit), and alcohol from my diet much like I have in the past when on the candida protocol. Because yeast thrives on such foods, this creates an inhospitable environment for yeast and greatly reduces the likelihood of suffering from yeast related issues. For certain folks, it may even be beneficial to use a stronger probiotic and add antifungal foods to your diet at this time. Antifungal foods include: garlic, cinnamon, coconut oil, and many others. From day 25 back through to day 10 I eat grains or sugars no more than 1-3 servings per day.
Yeast overgrowths can be challenging to treat especially if they are chronic, fueled by diet and/or stress, or cause digestive issues. If you think yeast might be the cause of your digestive issues, try tracking your cycle, determining when you ovulate, and determining the days during which progesterone spikes. I offer my diet modifications as an example of what works for me. This same diet may not be practical or possible for you, embrace what works for you.
Let it be known that I am not a doctor, simply a woman who has suffered with these excruciating, embarrassing issues for many years. You should always consult your physician when having medical issues or changing up your diet.
Brandy Oswald is the body positive activist, author, and entrepreneur behind Body Love Tribe, an international community of women dedicated to loving their bodies and having a damn good time in them. Brandy also works in business development at Star Essence, a flower and gemstone essence company bringing the healing power of flowers to men and women worldwide.
Connect with Brandy and Body Love Tribe at bodylovetribe.com or on Instagram and Twitter.