Is There a Link between Candida and Pelvic Pain?

Your new patient comes in with complaints of vulvar, vaginal or pelvic pain, reporting that “just before all of this started, I had several yeast infections…”

She goes on to say that the yeast may or may not have been confirmed, but she was treated with anti-fungal medication or was on a lot of antibiotics before the chronic yeast began.  While the symptoms may have improved temporarily on the medications, they continue to return.

Sound familiar?


(c) Can Stock Photo / ingridhs

So, what’s going on here?  Does she have chronic yeast, and if so… what can you do about it?

Chronic yeast, or general chronic dysbiosis – an imbalance of yeast or bacteria in the gut and/or in the vulvovaginal canal – is one of the most common triggers that I hear in my practice for women with pelvic pain, especially vulvovaginal pain.  However, just as commonly women are treated for a yeast infection with anti-fungal medications without having a positive swab for yeast.  Thus, getting to the root cause issue with each individual client is essential.

Do you want to strengthen your nutrition skills to fill in the gaps for your pelvic pain patients who also struggle with chronic yeast issues, constipation, food sensitivities, IBS, SIBO, or other digestive, immune, or bowel health issues? Click here to learn more.

Where to begin?

If a chronic yeast infection, or another common form of vaginal dysbiosis is suspected, having it confirmed by a vaginal swab and/ or organic acids testing is helpful.

On organic acids urine testing, look for elevated D-Arabinitol or Arabinose, as an indicator of systemic yeast overgrowth.


Consider gut dysbiosis – related to vulvovaginal yeast or bacterial overgrowth – with complaints of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, food sensitivities, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

Symptomatically, your patient will present with…

  • Bloating after meals
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or both
  • Abdominal pain with meals
  • Inability to tolerate certain foods

Additionally, on stool testing, she will present with pathogenic bacterial overgrowth, lack of bacterial diversity, or low levels of commensal and beneficial bacteria.

If Candida (yeast) overgrowth, or another form of vulvovaginal dysbiosis is part of the root cause of your client’s pelvic pain, what can you do about it?

In combination with skilled pelvic floor physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and pain science education, clinicians should make nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to support healthy gut and vulvovaginal microorganism balance.

  1. Optimize digestive function – Be sure that your client is having at least 1-2 well formed, Bristol 4 bowel movements daily.  To do so, she may require support for hypochlorhydria, digestive enzymes, optimal fiber intake, optimal mineral intake, and/or bowel motility.
  2. Hydration – Recommend that your client drinks approximately half of her body weight in ounces of filtered and/or mineral water per day.
  3. Anti-fungal/ healthy bacterial nutrition – Yeast and pathogenic bacteria thrive on sugar and grains.  Start with a simple elimination diet, eliminating gluten, grains, sugar, sweeteners, dairy, soy, caffeine, alcohol, and eggs while adding plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, and protein.
  4. Anti-yeast herbs to restore healthy yeast and bacterial balance, such as grapefruit seed extract (Bernatoniene et al., 2013), allicin (Kim et al., 2012) or combination products that are anti-microbial and anti-fungal such as Biocidin (Pereira, et al., 2007), are very helpful.
  5. Nutrient support.  When a client struggles with chronic yeast or bacterial overgrowth, she may have had a reduced ability to absorb vitamins and minerals for months to years.  Restoring her nutrient support will be essential to supporting the healing of her immune and endocrine systems – other important factors for relieving pelvic pain.  Starting with a high quality multivitamin will fill in the gaps.
Do you want to strengthen your nutrition skills to fill in the gaps for your pelvic pain patients who also struggle with chronic yeast issues, constipation, food sensitivities, IBS, SIBO, or other digestive, immune, or bowel health issues? Click here to learn more.

References:

Bernatoniene J, Keraitė R, Masteiková R, Pavilonis A, & Savickas A. (2013) A combination of grapefruit seed extract and concentrated cranberry juice as a potential antimicrobial preservative for the improvement of microbiological stability of hypromellose gel. Ceska Slov Farm, 62(5), 212-9.

Kim, Y.-S., Kim, K. S., Han, I., Kim, M.-H., Jung, M. H., & Park, H.-K. (2012). Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of the Antifungal Activity of Allicin Alone and in Combination with Antifungal Drugs. PLoS ONE, 7(6), e38242. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0038242

Pereira JA, Oliveira I, Sousa A, Valentão P, Andrade PB, Ferreira IC, Ferreres F, Bento A, Seabra R, & Estevinho L. (2007) Walnut (Juglans regia L.) leaves: phenolic compounds, antibacterial activity and antioxidant potential of different cultivars. Food Chem Toxicol, 45(11), 2287-95. Epub 2007 Jun 12.

 

15 thoughts on “Is There a Link between Candida and Pelvic Pain?

  1. So how do you recommend that women get tested for Candida? Do routine tests not catch the infection or is it just that doctors aren’t testing for it or considering it as a possible cause?

    • You can be tested for yeast overgrowth by your physician. And, you can look for common symptoms profiles that can uncover yeast challenges. Here is a useful quiz from Donna Gates, one of the world’s leading experts on candida… http://bodyecology.com/candida-quiz

      Thanks for your question Melissa!

    • In other articles on our site, we do discuss IC as a cause of pelvic pain. Please ask any specific questions you have about IC, and we’ll try to answer them in a future post. Thanks! Jessica

  2. Hi and thank you for this very informative post.
    I understand that candida is more likely to occur during pregnancy, problem is I’ve had a vaginal swab after complaining about a very clear watery like discharge and it was positive for candida. I never thought I would have a yeast infection given the fact that I was hospitalized for subchorionic hematoma. After being discharged from the hospital I had mild pelvic pain that comes and goes on either side and sometimes both, suddenly yesterday I had a severe kind of pelvic pain that lasted for about six hours which I took paracetamol for while waiting for the urine culture results which were positive for candida. I honestly thought that I was having round ligament pain all that time which could be possible because I’m around 15 weeks 6 days now. How can I prevent candida from reoccurring once again because if the pain i had yesterday is associated with it then I really want to be extra cautious. Please note I’m abstaining from sexual intercourse based on doctor’s orders.
    Thank you so much

    • Without knowing the full details of your health history, the basic principles for resolving yeast overgrowth are as follows…
      1. Starve the yeast by eliminating sugar and those carbohydrates that quickly convert to sugar (like flours, breads, and pastas.) In some cases, even fruit should be eliminated for the short term.
      2. Add probiotic foods and supplements to the diet to re-balance the gut bacteria. Some excellent probiotic foods are sauerkraut, kim chee, and fermented whole milk kefir.

      Take care, and I hope you’re feeling well. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please send an email to jessica@integrativepelvichealthinstitute.com, and my team will schedule a get acquainted call with me.

      Best,
      Jessica

  3. Hi, ive been having alot of pelvic pain, lower abdominal pain when passing urine and bowel movements, also irregular bleeding and pain during intercourse.I had swabs done and told I have a mild case of thrush, could this be the only cause or should I pursue further tests? My nurse suggested a scan? Thank you

    • It could just be yeast, but it could be something more like endometriosis, a fibroid, or even something more serious. Always take advice from your local healthcare provider first as she will know you better than any internet site can offer. Good Luck with finding the help that you need. If you would like a complimentary private consultation, please contact me and my team at jessica@integrativepelvichealthinstitute.com.

  4. Hi everyone. i have a yeast. a severe case. im posotive it is syateminc. they done a pelvic swab and it came back positive for yeast negative for bv stds etc. i have sevdre abdominal cramping. sometimes on the left side sometimes on my back its basically everywhere. i am starting to treat tonight. i was taking clindamycin for strep a few weeks back and pretty sure this is to blame. :/ my belly burns and it hurts to pee. and now that i have tested positive for yeast i cean treat it. hope this helps.

  5. I was on contra injection and started period again last November – since Jan I have had pelvic pains and nausea. I get pelvic scans done (all 3) and was told they were normal but still having pains etc. Any idea what it can be ?? I am also getting pain injections in neck/back due to a fall
    Can you advise ???

  6. Thanks! This information is so helpful. I have experienced chronic yeast infection for the past two years. Recently, I made the connection with my yeast infections and chronic pain in pelvic area. I spoke to my doctor several times in the past two years about this pain and she always sends me for many ultrasounds for them to come back normL. I also have an IUD in that is scheduled to come out this year and thought that it may have something to do with the chronic pain. After reading many articles such as this one I see that my chronic pain in my pelvic area, and pain during bowel movement is due to chronic yeast infection. My doctor has not been helpful at all when it comes down to this mater. I pay for office visits and multiple ultrasounds and she gives me eight weeks worth of diflucan, creams for external and internal use and sends me in my way. Ignoring all of my other symptoms.

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