I love everything about pregnancy! Obviously, it's why I do what I do. Except yeast infections, I don't love those. Yeast infections are no fun! Especially when you are pregnant. Itchy and irritated rashes, smelly discharge, burning and soreness are all things no pregnant woman wants to deal with. These little fungi are not only irritating but can be dangerous by increasing the risk of Premature Rupture of Membranes from infection (PROM). Candida in pregnancy should always be taken seriously. That doesn't mean, though, that it cannot be treated without prescription antifungals. In fact, the success rate in treatment with diet (with or without medication) is greater than medication alone.
Yeast infections during pregnancy are much more common than you would think. Some estimate up to 75% of pregnant women have some level of yeast infection, with 30-40% needing treatment. 40% of those treated with antifungals will have a relapse and need a second dose of medication in treatment.
Vaginal Candida Symptoms
The severity and location of symptoms can vary significantly dependent on the woman's microbiome, and immune health. But in general symptoms can include:
What Causes Increased Candida in Pregnancy?
Yeast infections during pregnancy are pretty common, and can be caused by a number of different underlying conditions. Yeast play an important role in eating the dead cells of blood, skin, and mucosal layers. When there is an imbalance in the diet, bacteria, or hormones, candida can overgrow and become a problem.
Common Treatment Options
It's sad to me that most western medicine providers on not trained in dietary and nutritional therapy. They are, however, well trained in medication therapy (which is sometimes the best course of action).
Natural Treatment Options
Common medication treatment runs the risk of possible interactions and birth defects. If symptoms are mild and caught early, treatment with natural supplements should be a first line defense. Even if treatment with antifungals is necessary for the prevention of childbirth and pregnancy complications such as preterm labor, these supplements can be used to increase medical treatment success and prevent relapse.
Dietary Treatment - A Must
The goal of dietary therapy in most candida diets is to starve out the yeast by depriving it of the foods likes, such as sugars and dairy. I have another approach as well. In my Candida diet we increase the foods that have been shown have antifungal properties. Some of these foods are often left off of most other candida diet lists because they are high glycemic. In phases of pregnancy we need additional glucose to fuel fetal development so depriving the body of all carbs (even the good ones) may not be the best idea. The general guidelines of my candida diet are not just about macronutrients, but about the micronutrients and lifestyles needs during pregnancy.
Want to know more? Check out my eBook, "A Patient's Guide to Candida in Pregnancy." For a more in depth look into dietary treatment for Candida.
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The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition.
Sarah Thompson is a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner who specializes in Maternal, Prenatal and Childbirth health.