So, how did I get so passionate about candida? Well, like many things in life… invention was the mother of necessity. This whole candida thing is REAL personal for me. It’s made my life living hell for the past 8 years. The following is an account of how I ended up on this journey.
My candida journey started when I was 19 and got on the pill.
I went to a doctor and asked to be put on birth control. I asked if there were side effects. The doctor said no, that it was actually good for me long-term.
I was skeptical, but I accepted this (what did I know? I was a 19 year old kid. He was a doctor, a medical professional). I swallowed my skepticism and with it, that first fateful pill.
My life was never the same after that. The side effects arose quickly. Swollen, painful breasts. Depression and moodiness. Wanting to eat only bread and butter. Zero sex drive. Hormonal acne.
I had never experienced ANY of these things before.
It was so scary. I called the doctor back, trying to find answers. He said,
“Just stay on it, the side effects usually subside within 3 months. It just takes your body time to get used to it.”
Remember how there weren’t any side effects?
He was right about some of it. Most of it went away. Not the acne. For anyone who has suffered from skin issues, you know what a toll it takes on both your physical and mental well-being. Especially at 19 — just starting college, becoming a young adult, it was so tough. I felt incredibly self-conscious, all the time.
And then there was the moment that changed everything.
It was the moment I got my first yeast infection.
I didn’t know what was going on exactly, just that I was SO itchy and uncomfortable down there. A feeling I’d never felt before.
I made an appointment at the health center, and an RN swabbed my vagina. Days later, she called back and said that I had tested positive for Candida albicans — or yeast. She told me no to worry, that it was very common. She prescribed me a pill called Diflucan, a common oral antifungal. She told me not to eat sugar and to change my clothes after I workout. Fine, OK. I already barely ate sugar and practiced basic hygiene, but agreed.
I went to the pharmacy, got the pill, took it, and felt better later that day.
I didn’t think much of it. I thought I was fixed.
Until I started feeling that same feeling…just a few weeks later.
I went back to the health center. Same dog and pony show— lie back, legs in stirrups, swab. At this point, I was like, “hey I know what this is…I’ve had it before. “
“Let’s wait and see the test results to make sure.”
A few days later, the tests come back positive, again.
I took the pill again.
This starts happening every few weeks.
And then the pills stop working. So they prescribe me more. And more.
I keep going back and they keep questioning me,
“You can’t possibly have a yeast infection again.”
I lie back, they swab me and test the sample.
And then I’d get the call back, “ As it turns out, you DO have a yeast infection.”
Yep, remember what I told you? I know. Don’t tell me I don’t know what’s going on with my own body.
All of a sudden, I’m taking 6 pills at a time.
All of a sudden, the pills aren’t working.
They prescribe me creams.
It seems like it’s working for a little bit.
But it keeps coming back.
I’m now on pills and creams. It’s fucking horrendous. I’m exhausted with this circus show and just want to feel normal again.
I ask them what’s going on.
They can’t figure it out.
You’re sure you’re not eating tons of sugar? Drinking lots of alcohol? Hanging out in sweaty gym clothes?
No. Of course not. I’ve been doing exactly what you told me to do. And guess what? It’s not working.
“I’m sorry, we don’t know what to do. We don’t know what’s going on.”
At no point did anyone ever tell me, HEY maybe it’s the fucking hormonal birth control. HEY maybe you should try getting off of that.
By this point, I feel like the doctors and nurses and entire fucking healthcare system has failed me. I tried doing things the “right way.” And it all fucking failed.
I’ve lost faith.
So, I turn to the Internet.
I start doing all the things that every hokey-ass hippie website recommends.
Even the ones that sound batshit crazy. My body becomes a human laboratory.
I put garlic cloves up my vagina. Yogurt. Coconut oil. Apple cider vinegar. Tea tree oil. Oil of oregano. Hydrogen peroxide.
I order pills. Probiotics. Pau de arco. Caprylic acid. Boric acid suppositories.
And hey, who knows what of that fucking science experiment worked…but over the course of weeks, maybe even months of experimentation, something works.
But hold on. A few weeks later…it comes back. Again. What the fuck!
Back to the Internet. This time, I get stricter. OK, now let’s try changing diet. I’m still eating bread and cheese at this point. I cut out wheat, dairy and sugar.
And for a while, I’m fine again.
Then, I’m with my family at California Pizza Kitchen and there’s some beautiful crusty bread. I eat some. The next day, I’m feeling the same telltale symptoms.
OK. Well. This is out for me now.
And over time, over the next 8 years, I come to realize that I have a chronic condition.
Today, I’ve been off hormonal birth control for almost 5 years.
I hoped that getting off the birth control would resolve the yeast infections. It didn’t.
I hypothesize that something fundamental in my gut got thrown off because of the hormones. And I’m still not back to a pre-BC world.
Even after all these years. I’ve come to terms with the fact that what I now have is a chronic condition.
These days, though, I rarely have a flare-up. But when I do, I have the tools and am prepared to fight it.
I don’t freak out. I don’t go to the doctor, because I know what the answer is going to be at this point. And I know it’s not going to be the answer that I want to hear. I know now how to deal with my chronic condition myself (at least for now).
I know now that the doctors don’t have all the answers.
It’s scary to come to terms with that. But I’m better and healthier for it.
People ask how I can be “so disciplined” when it comes to eating. Well. I have strong, strong incentives for my “discipline.” I thank candida overgrowth in a way for forcing me to make healthy diet choices. For reshaping my perspectives on the healthcare system and helping me to understand the benefit of holistic solutions.
Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for the learnings and growth you have brought me. Amidst the agony, pain, confusion, frustration, and stress… I now have tools. I now have solutions.
And that’s why I’m here (thanks for reading if you made it through all that, btw). To share what I’ve learned with you. And so you can share these learnings with the people you care about who are suffering from candida overgrowth, too — and hopefully skip some of this agony.