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The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health

© Carol Beck, Carolyn Dean

If you've complained of feeling “sick all over” with fatigue, irritability, muscle aches, depression, digestive complaints and host of other symptoms, you’re not alone.

In today’s fast-paced society, more and more of us, particularly women, suffer from these symptoms. We sometimes spend years and thousands of dollars seeking relief.

Conventional medicine accepts and treats vaginal yeast infections in women as short-term and rather routine matters. A brief course of prescription antifungal medications usually resolves the vaginal yeast infection – until the next time it occurs.

Doctors are also quick to agree that systemic yeast infections can cause serious health problems for people who are severely immunocompromised, including AIDS patients and those with late stage cancers.

Yet mainstream medicine still rejects a concept introduced more than 20 years ago by the late Dr. William Crook in his book, The Yeast Connection:

Candida albicans yeast overgrowth in the intestinal tract can spread throughout the systems of ordinary people who are not severely immunocompromised, causing symptoms as dissimilar as headaches, food allergies, endometriosis, depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, psoriasis and many more. This is known as yeast overgrowth or dysbiosis.

Dr. Crook made it clear that yeast overgrowth should not be a catch-all diagnosis for the numerous symptoms associated with yeast overgrowth. He was clear, however, in his admonition that yeast overgrowth is not the cause of these problems, but it may be a cause. He spent his lifetime urging doctors to consider the possibility that dysbiosis could be contributing to the symptoms of patients who did not respond to other treatments.

A healthy immune system has a balance of friendly intestinal bacteria such as Bifidobacteria longum and Lactobaccillus acidophilus. These three to four pounds of “ good bugs”, present in every human body, help us digest our food, support our immune system, and even make some of our vitamins.

Candida albicans is a part of a natural balance of healthy microorganisms. It only becomes a problem when the scales are tipped and the balance is upset. This happens most frequently through the use of antibiotics that kill all the friendly bacteria, though not the yeast. Aggravating the yeast imbalance is the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is rich in refined sugar and processed foods that literally feed the yeast and encourage more overgrowth.

What Causes Dysbiosis?

How can all of these seemingly unrelated conditions be caused by an imbalance of these microorganisms?

Dr. Crook, whose pioneering work with yeast overgrowth helped countless people for more than 20 years, explained how Candida albicans in the digestive tract overwhelm the protective healthy bacteria, and burrow into the now-unguarded intestinal wall. This in turn creates tiny gaps in the membrane lining through which partially digested food particles and toxins can be absorbed into your circulatory system, reaching every part of your body. All kinds of illness can result from this condition he called “leaky gut syndrome.”

Women are more susceptible than men

Women are far more susceptible to yeast infections and yeast overgrowth than men primarily because of the anatomical differences. First of all, since yeasts thrive on the warm, dark interior membranes of the body, the vagina and the folds of the vulva furnish a hospitable home.

The use of cortisone and birth control pills also have a connection to yeast overgrowth. Experts say at least 35% of women using the pill are susceptible to repeated bouts of vaginitis caused by Candida albicans. By some estimates, that figure is as high as 50%.

In addition, yeast colonization is encouraged by hormonal changes within a woman’s menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. For some reason, higher levels of progesterone just before ovulation and during pregnancy seem to encourage rapid yeast growth in some women.

How to diagnose yeast-related disorders

Diagnosing a yeast-related disorder is a complex process. The first step is to find physician who’s willing to spend the time and energy necessary to arrive at a diagnosis. The physician (allopathic or naturopathic) will want a complete medical history and physical examination. This will often include laboratory examinations of blood for candida antibodies, antigens and immune complexes, plus urine and stool examinations for candida and other yeasts. An important part of the diagnostic process is to eliminate other causes of the symptoms.

You'll find a printable form to take to your physician appointment that includes a list of tests and labs performing these tests at the following website: yeastconnection.com/getting_exp_adv.html


Woman's Health Connection is dedicated to helping women take charge of their health and the health of their families. Our goal is to inform and support women regarding their chronic health conditions and provide them with the resources needed to effect change - including books, educational programs, supplements, healthy products and a dynamic, ever-changing website. Woman's Health Connection was started in 1984 by Dr. William Crook, author of the best-seller, The Yeast Connection. A portion of the profits of Woman's Health Connection supports organizations and initiatives that help women care for themselves physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

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