PCOS: The Candida Connection
by Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
I never heard of candida until about 8 years ago, when my PCOS was out of control and the naturopath I was seeing asked me to do a spit test. Yes, you heard me correctly – a spit test – it is exactly what it sounds like and I’ll tell you more about it later.
At the time, my sugar cravings were out of control, I had frequent yeast infections, a weird rash that would come and go and I was tired all of the time. She suspected that I had an overabundance of candida albicans, a fungal organism or yeast, in my system.
What is candida albicans?
I just want to clarify that we all have this candida or yeast. Candida albicans is actually helpful and lives in our gut. Its job is to assist with digestion and nutrient absorption. Candida lives in small numbers in the genital tract, on the skin, and in the bowels. It’s usually kept balanced by “friendly” bacteria, digestive enzymes, and other organisms in our body, but when we are eating lots of sugar and refined carbohydrates, like I was eating back then, we actually feed the yeast, it proliferates and overgrows wherever it can and causes its own set of symptoms which as you will see, are a lot like PCOS symptoms.
Once we throw off the balance in our bodies the candida invades, they breed and crowd out the good bacteria. The yeast begins wreaking havoc inside of us. Candida also produces toxic by-products that can infiltrate the bloodstream. These toxins are then identified as foreign invaders by the body’s immune system. Eventually, this yeast can begin to turn “parasitic”, robbing our bodies of our resources for their own benefit.
If you have ever baked bread with yeast, then you know that you need to proof the yeast with a little sugar and warm water before you add it to the flour. Bakers do this to determine if the yeast is alive. If it is alive then it eats the sugar and produces a foamy substance.
As women with PCOS, when our insulin and blood sugar are elevated, we have circulating amounts of glucose (sugar) in our bodies that are higher than your average woman. This is exactly the kind of environment that candida yeast thrives in. Many women with PCOS eat lots of food (like I was doing years ago) that is the perfect food source for candida – sugars, carbs, and even yeasted bread. If you have an overabundance of candida in your body you will probably experience an uncontrollable craving for sugar. This is the yeast yelling for nourishment!
It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve never heard of candida before. It is not a recognized condition (other than thrush and vaginal yeast infections) by many conventional doctors and there is no miracle pill for them to prescribe.
What leads to the overabundance of candida?
Many different factors can contribute to yeast overgrowth.
Both prescribed antibiotics and those found in our food supply kill off the good bacteria in our gut which allows for yeast to thrive. If you’ve taken antibiotics recently, chances are you have an imbalance if you haven’t taken preventative measures.
Stress elevates cortisol and over time elevated cortisol can lead to increased blood sugar and an environment where yeast thrives.
#3 Birth control pills
Most pills contain hormones estrogen and progestin. Due to the high levels of hormones – especially estrogen – which can lead to elevated blood sugar levels – many women suffer from an overgrowth of yeast as a result. Also during pregnancy when estrogen is elevated, candida can thrive. I can attest to this as pregnancy was the only time I ever experienced thrush.
#4 Cortisone and other steroids
These drugs compromise the intestinal flora and lower our immune response which allows candida to thrive.
#5 Chlorinated water
Tap water that has been treated with chlorine kills off the friendly bacteria in our gut.
#6 A diet high in sugar and carbs
What are the signs of Candida overgrowth?
A yeast overgrowth can cause a myriad of symptoms, many of which mimic PCOS symptoms.
They can include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Persistent gas and bloating
- Recurrent bladder infections
- Recurrent vaginal yeast infections
- Sinus problems
- Sugar cravings
- Bad breath
- Blurred vision
- Brain fog
- Mood Problems
- Food sensitivities and allergies
- A bloated abdomen and/or abdominal pain
- A slow and foggy mind
- A white coating on your tongue or inside your mouth
- Anal itching
- Feeling old and worn out
- Hair loss
- Heartburn, indigestion, and/or gas
- itchy skin rashes
- Premenstrual symptoms
- Red, itching eyes
- Waking up tired
- Weight loss or gain
- Skin rashes
How do I know if it is yeast and not just PCOS?
Now we are back to the spit test. Although, after researching, it seems that this test isn’t entirely accurate and may prove to be a hoax. If you are still curious you can see more info below…
I think a better indicator is to take both of these online questionnaires. The Body Ecology is a very reputable site that specializes in healing people from candida.
#1 Body Ecology below…
An Anti-Candida Antibodies, or Candida Immune Complexes test. There are 3 antibodies that should be tested to measure your immune system’s response to Candida – IgG, IgA, and IgM. High levels of these antibodies indicate that an overgrowth of Candida is present.
Your stool is directly analyzed for levels of yeast, pathogenic bacteria, and friendly bacteria. However, Candida often does not show up in this test, so the blood test is more reliable.
What can I do to heal a Candida overgrowth?
With candida, you have to take a two-pronged approach. First, you need to stop feeding the yeast by removing sugar and refined carbs from your diet, and secondly heal the gut and strengthen your body.
Heal the gut and strengthen your system using
Probiotics & prebiotic foods
These are a great way to rebuild our intestinal flora. We need to add more good bacteria to the gut by eating taking a probiotic (I take Probiotic Spheres) and eating fermented probiotic foods like raw sauerkraut, kimchi, and even perhaps a little organic yogurt, and drinking kombucha. Combine these foods with prebiotics, which act as food for the probiotics and help them to do their job. Probiotics act in the small intestine and prebiotics act in the large intestine. The two in combination create synergy in the body.
Prebiotic type foods – include raw oats, asparagus, bananas, and artichokes.
Eat more garlic is another very powerful anti-fungal food so eat plenty! I like to eat a ¼ clove of raw garlic a day to keep the yeast away!
Bone broths are great sources of minerals and collagen to help heal the gut. I have my favorite recipe in Week 1 of the Winter Meal Plan.
Coconut oil is also on my list of favorite healing foods. The mono lauric acid in coconut oil helps fight off candida overgrowth. I eat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil a day to ward off yeast. I either cook with it, use it like butter, or put it in my smoothies.
Gluten-free grains Most people suffering from candida tend to also be gluten intolerant. Hopefully, you are avoiding gluten already. Gluten-free grains such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth are okay. My Meal Plans are designed to be gluten-free, low in sugar, and can be helpful to get your body back in balance.
Supplements to help
There are some natural products that offer additional support if you think you may have an overgrowth of yeast. I have tried and liked all three products below. When you kill off the yeast quickly you can have flu-like symptoms. This is actually a result of the yeast “die-off”. I find that the Candaclear Four and Syntol do not cause this die-off feeling. The Candigone is more of a cleanse and you may experience some die-off.
If you have a product or remedy to help balance your body and candida please share with us!
There is a line of chinese herbal medicines out of Australia called Panaxea (panaxea.com). Their herbal formulation called Can)dec has been amazing for clearing candida without the die off experience. I believe the formulations are only available through chinese medicine practitioners, but it is definitely worth looking into, or finding an Acupuncturist or herbalist who can prescribe it.
* Can)dex. Sorry for the typo!
I have celiac and pcos and I can tell you I have had to many yeast infection to count but now gluten free not nearly as many usually only when I get antioboitics.
I did not know there was a connection between PCOS and candida, though I’m not surprised. I’ve just been through a real candida/gut “health crisis” since my second son was born 15 months ago. I was given a big, IV dose of antibiotics during labor and delivery because I had tested positive to Group Strep B. A few days later I got thrush in my milk duct and my son got oral thrush. We were both treated with anti-fungals. His digestion and colic type symptoms got better and soon disappeared, but mine were just starting. I’ve developed eczema, horrid dandruff, sensitivities to foods I used to eat very well, gas and bloating after every meal, uro-genital yeast symptoms, blurry vision, fatigue, and increased hypoglycemia. After much research I came upon the Specific Carbohydrates Diet and it has really helped me along with the homemade yogurt and bone broths it requires. I’ve still got healing to do as I still can’t eat any raw fruits/vegs without my stomach going out, but many of my previous symptoms are gone now.
I take ProBio5 to relieve me of my candida symptoms. It is one of the best products on the market right now. I no longer have the yeast infections and when I do my “spit test” It shows I’m candida yeast free!!! You can go to http://www.plexusslim.com/41522 That is the website I order from and look up ProBio5. Trust me when I say it is awesome!!!
hi ive had the worst case of candida which then led to leaky gut, i tried candex which i bought online from the usa and had shipped over, it didn’t work for me and ended up seeing a bio chemist who put me on diflucen for 4 weeks and nilstat for 2 weeks. no dairy wheat or sugar for 4 weeks and all gone, the leaky gut on the other hand is different story.
I have a yeast problem on my skin. It just seems to seep from my pores. Maybe this is my problem. Thanks for the info.
I was diagnosed with candida overgrowth by an iridoligist who could instantly tell when he looked in my eyes. I also have pcos. He recommended something called Pau D’Arco which I take in tablet form but you can also buy it as tea leaves which tastes better with some ginger grated in. Unfortunately my first attempt at killing the candida with a multitude of natural remedies resulted in some pretty heavy die off symptoms and i fell off the perch. Best to start gradually and to alternate what remedies you are using as candida is also pretty clever and will quickly become resistant to use of the same anti-fungal treatment.
OH MY, I just took the test on the WHOLE APPROACH site and my score was 324!!! Scary!! I’ve actually read about this before but didn’t realize how much it mimics both PCOS but also the fibromyalgia I’ve been diagnosed with! I’m definately going to look into this and make some changes!
PS: Could you elaborate on your recommendation for Apple Cider Vinegar, looks like it got cut off…
Here is my article on ACV http://pcosdiva.designbyansley.com/2009/09/a-spoonful-of-vinegar-helps-the-sugar-go-down/
I believe that fibromyalgia is none other than Candida. Don’t know why doctors have not made the connection. When I say Systemic Yeast Infection or Candida no one knows what I’m talking about; but, when I say Fibromyalgia then everyone goes, Oh I have that or I know someone who has that. I was diagnosed about 8 years ago by a pediatrician who worked with Dr. William Crook, author of The Yeast Connection and recognized authority on yeast infections. Dr. Linda Rodriguez lives in Virginia Beach, Va.
Hello, I am so happy to have found this post. This will be long (sorry lol) I am 29 and was diagnosed with PCOS back in November however, im pretty sure I have had it for years- just did not know. In reference to the candida- about 5 years ago I started getting yeast infections pretty often. I also would get sick to my stomach if I drank alcohol. Even if I ate a sweet dessert, a couple of minutes later my stomach would cramp up. It got to the point I felt it when I was having an outbreak of candida. PCOS came into play when I noticed hairs growing on my chin and chest. I looked up Vaniqua, reading the reviews- most women said that the hair growth was due to their PCOS. I looked PCOS and had many of the symptoms and diagnosed myself with it. Went to the gyn and she confirmed my theory. I still have an overabundance of candida, i have tried many home-remedies which helps. I always felt there was a connection to the yeast and PCOS. I love sweets and have many cravings which are often satisfied because I am a chef. I will now try to not eat sugar for a month to see how my PCOS & Candida overabundance symptoms react.
I have Candida and have always been borderline hyperglycemic. ProBio5 is a strong probiotic that is specifically designed to kill the Candida. I’ve been taking it for 3 months now, and my spit tests indicate I am candida free!!!
Systemic candida infections are hard to get rid of and sometimes require long-term treatment with strong antifungals. I’ve known people who have been on 200mg Diflucan everyday for years–if they stop it, they immediately get the infection again! Nystatin is a safer alternative, but is not systemic. I personally do a good 200mg 7-day stint with Diflucan if the yeast gets to the point where I have a vaginal yeast infection or dandruff that absolutely will NOT go away.
My favorite diet for systemic candida is GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). If you do GAPS and you are on insulin regulators be very careful since the nature of the diet fixes insulin regulation issues and you could find yourself passed out on the floor if you’re not careful. Paleo or low or no-carb is not acceptable for this condition, it has to be GAPS. In fact, don’t do low-carb unless you need to be in ketosis for a neurological condition as it’s very, very bad for the body in general.
For systemic candida I generally advise people to do 1 month of the full GAPS diet, then do the entire introduction and then follow the protocol for adding ‘normal’ foods back into the diet, but at an accelerated rate. For example, in the book it states not to add grains back into the diet until the patient has been symptom-free for six months. You could probably do it in six weeks. The book cautions to not add new foods but for once every three days to a week–but go ahead and add one to two new foods everyday, if you wish (the reason the author says this is for people doing the diet for food allergies, which is why I say to ignore the advice). I also advise people not to follow the doctor’s directions about natural sugar sources. Do not eat any fruit or honey even though it’s allowed. Unprocessed stevia (the dried leaf itself, or the powder thereof) is ok. Also, ensure you’re getting an adequate amount of carbs. The diet restricts all grains and starchy vegetables, but squash and nuts/seeds are abundant. EAT A LOT OF THEM!
Supplements to kill candida are numerous but mostly mask the reason it happened in the first place. However, if you cannot afford or do GAPS for whatever reason there is still a lot you can do. First, try a GAPS-like diet like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or simply a grain/potato/sugar/fruit/yeast-free diet.
Take anti-fungals to kill the yeast during the morning. Candidase by Enzymedica is good, so is Pau D’arco. Gut Flora Complex by Standard Process is excellent. I know of a lot of others but can’t think of them just now. Going to Onibasu and looking up “biomed for autism” will give you a lot of results for this kind of thing as autism/candida is a huge deal. You might find more information there.
Mid-afternoon (or six hours after your morning pills) take 1-2 capsules of activated charcoal. This will ‘mop up the dead’ and help prevent the Herxheimer reaction. Drink a large glass of water and eat something as well.
Six hours after this, right before bed and on an empty stomach, take 20-50 billion live microorganisms (no more than 50–but less if you can’t afford that high a dose). Make sure you have atleast six strains and avoid any strep strains. This replinishes the gut after you’re killed and mopped up the dead bacteria.
A week after you start this, stop the charcoal. Continue with the rest of the regimen for a month, then you can slowly back off. In the end you should continue to take atleast 10 billion live microorganisms a night for maintenance. Some people must continue with some small amount of yeast-killers in the morning.
A NOTE ON PROBIOTICS: It’s better to receive your good bacteria from natural sources if you can. Eat all manner of fermented foods: kombucha, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kvass especially. If you have HISTADELIA (which is a condition in which you cannot release histamines properly from the body) then you should actively avoid these foods as they are very high in histamines and will make your condition worse. Instead, invest in very good-quality probiotics. Find out if you have histadelia beforehand though because being sick from high histamines and being sick from Herx-ing look like the same thing.
THE HERXHEIMER REACTION: This occurs when yeast dies and explodes, releasing toxins. The liver has trouble keeping up with all the dead yeast, and the gut gets plugged up with all the dead bacteria, and the patient then becomes ill. It is a well-documented phenomena. It’s not deadly, but it can make you feel far worse than when you started and make you feel like stopping the regimen. Taking activated charcoal, taking epsom-salt baths, and drinking a lot of water and going into the fresh air can help Herx-ing. Absolutely anything can happen during Herx-ing, including depression, vomiting, rashes, and even viral infections. On the other hand, you may not notice anything at all. Everyone’s different.
HOMEOPATHY: You could also simply do a candida albicans clear. To do this, obtain candida albicans in the 30C, 200C, 1M, and 10M potencies. Twice a week dose yourself with it, starting at 30C. Stay at this potency for two weeks and if you notice no side effects, move onto the next potency. If you have ‘aggravations’ (Herx-ing) then stick with the current potency until they disappear–afterwards you can move onto the next potency. Always dose at night.
I hope this helps. I can also take questions if anyone has any. I’m very familiar with this topic (can you tell???).
I am tearing up right now because I feel like this is what I have known all along yet no one has ever made this connection for me until now. I get about 6-8 infections a year and never fully feel “healed.” I cannot believe that more people do not make this connection. I even asked my doctor about it because I thought it might be related to my birth control, she said it is not related to the kind I am taking – Nuvaring. But now I am off and trying to conceive and I still get the infections, it just makes so much sense. You are truly amazing Amy! If I didn’t believe before, I certainly do now. I started gluten free a week ago and am doing without bad carbs and sugar whenever I can. Both online tests said I have “high likelihood of yeast issues.” Time to do something about it…
Hi,thanks for this info, am so happy, I’ve been battling with candida for along time, i was later diagnosed with pcos that is when i tried to get pregnant failed, bt even when i was pt on clomid, i concieved en then miscarried, i cut sugar en beers , i can see some i mprovmeng,now i know yeat infections are related with pcos, thank you for yo care!
Oregano oil can be helpful in conjunction with probiotics, however, some people find that it can upset their stomach, and don’t care for the taste if they belch at all.
Does anyone know if CandiGone or other cleanses have adverse reactions when taking Metformin?
I’ve been told by 2 doctors I don’t have PCOS, but I have some symptoms of it. I do have a hormonal imbalance though. I’m 33 and have had horrible acne along with oily skin since age 12. I also have thick facial/body hair. Also, I cannot tell when I’m ovulating unless I take my temperature. Anyway, there are strict diets out there to help hormonal imbalances and PCOS. However, there might not be a need for a strict diet if a person was to take a food sensitivity/allergy blood test for candida and for a long list of foods. I finally dived in and took a $700 food sensitivity test. The results were that my body is sensitive to 15 different foods. The biggest ones for me were soybean, eggs, green beans, pinto beans and baker’s/brewer’s yeast. Other sensitivities were to orange, ginger, vanilla and pepper. Oh boy, I was drinking an herbal tea by YOGI for female hormones and it contained ginger and orange peel. I had to stop drinking that herbal tea. I have been been avoiding All breads(no more pizza and burgers!), ALL processed sweets(every sweet item has EITHER a soy product, some form of yeast, egg OR a combination of the three.), ALL processed snack items(will only eat organic kind without yeast, soy, egg, etc.). I’m glad I’m not sensitive to pure cane sugar! I still drink my tea with sugar. Anyway, I have been staying away from all 15 foods and the next month I finally had cervical mucus discharge during ovulation! I had not seen that stuff come out of my body in YEARS. Also, my acne and oily skin has cleared a significant amount.
Here is my problem with anti-candida protocols.
If we drastically remove carbs from our diets, then we kill good bacteria along with bad bacteria. Some experts believe that if we try to completely starve these pathogens, they find other ways to survive by creating spores and burrowing into the stomach lining.
I have tried anti-candida diets. I did feel good initially, going so low carb that my “carb-like” snack would consist of my chewing on dried herbs like fennel and rosemary. But even if I succeeded at “killing” in my battle with candida, Lyme, and co-infections, I couldn’t win the war, as this life-style led to low body-temperature, hypothyroidism, muscle wasting, and a weakened immunity. I was dependent on killing-tactics because my immune system was doubly week and couldn’t independently function to create the appropriate immune responses. All my low-carbing and antimicrobial efforts created a chronic state of inflammation on top of my chronic illness.
After years of medical research and self-experimentation, I have added carbs back into my life to boost my metabolism. Without a functioning metabolism, we can’t get energy into our cells. Sure, we may “feed the bugs” with things like monosaccharides, magnesium, carnitine, and so on, but I’d feed dem’ bugs, feed my good bacteria, too, and boost my immune system. ALL foods are toxic in large quantities (ie goitrogens in curciferous veges, sugars in carrots, phytoestrogens in flax) but living in fear of feeding the bugs isn’t a good apporach. Being nutritionally, hematologically and hormonally balanced is a more fun option.
I wouldn’t be able to start body-building if I continued living this way.
Have you ever looked into a keto diet or going very high fat while low carb?
Yep. I knew that being low carb, I had to get my calories and energy from somewhere. And fat being 5 more calories per gram than carbs was a great susbsitute. I was a lot more sedentary in the beginning of my treatment so this worked out okay for me. I love fat like ghee and egg yolks so it was actually great in terms of taste! However my thyroid got worse and worse and my Lyme healing recovery plateaued. I eat at least 200+ grams of carbs a day now and more like 60 grams of fat. Feeling the best I’ve felt since high school.
It is weird, I have in the last 6/7 months started getting thrush, I am now 41 and never experienced this before.
I have started taking probiotics, which has managed to stop the thrush reoccurring (apart from recently I went on hols, but I forgot to take my tablets with me, and got ill, once home the thrush appeared, but went very quickly once I resumed the probiotics).
I never thought to connect it with PCOS, and my diet! Thanks for enlightening me.
I went to my health foods store and bought what was suggested. I
have a bottle of Solaray Yeast-Cleanse and Nature’s Way probiotics.
Would you suggest taking the cleanse first followed by the probiotics or
would it be okay to take them in the same day? Thank you!
ProBio5 has provided me with the best results over anything else. It is designed to kill candida and it appears to do just that according to my test results. I feel better than ever. ..it really is a life changer!
I have PCOS and trust me, I get the issues everyone is facing. But I’m also final year medical student. I have studied the human body for 7 years, so I feel I can say this with authority. Systemic candidiasis only occurs in people that have very weak immune systems – I’m talking AIDS, people on chemotherapy drugs kind of immunsuppressed here – not ‘I’m stress out all the time and get colds often’. It can also occasionally occur at sites that people have implants in there body, like a pace-maker. It is simply not a disease that healthy people get. When you get it – trust me, you will know. You will be really sick. I’m talking fevers, bed ridden, have to call an ambulance sick. Candida colonises (grows without causing harm) the mouth in most people so of course spit test would say you have it. Your money is better spent elsewhere. Eating a health diet is a great thing for everyone to do, but cutting out foods like gluten or going on colon cleanses or taking antifungals is dangerous and not necessary. Women with PCOS get recurrent thrush due to high oestrogen levels – that’s all. I wish you all the best x
I have to say my candida is now gone ever since I started taking the Lady Soma Candida Cleanse. I have literally spent thousands of dollars on Candida products, I bought this Lady Soma Candida Cleanse 3 weeks ago and this is the one that works the best for me.
i had issues as well but i found a great enzyme supplement on this website: https://supremeform.com/blog/candex-reviews
it uses enzymes to break up the biofilm and kill candida without die off. hope it helps