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Pregnancy is an indescribably miraculous phenomenon. As a woman, your body has the ability to nurture and protect cells, instinctively providing those cells with the hormones, nutrients and space that allows them to eventually develop into a separate and fully individual human being. Anyone who has felt the gentle thump of a fetus kicking from inside a woman’s belly can attest to the awe-inspiring process of gestation and the power of a woman’s body.
Of course, along with this rose-colored perception of majestic motherhood, real pregnancies produce many less romantic side effects and symptoms: gas, heartburn, swollen feet, bloating, nausea, vomiting, breast pain, mood swings, food cravings and aversions, headaches, backaches and to top it off, bladder and yeast infections!
Yeast infections are unwelcome no matter what life situation you find yourself in. However, during pregnancy not only are they particularly unpleasant but expecting mothers are particularly prone to developing them. Partners of pregnant women often report noticing a slightly sweeter or “fruity” taste of the vagina when conception is first suspected. This additional glycogen (natural sugar) in the vagina is due to higher levels of the hormone estrogen.
According to several sources, “your higher level of estrogen during pregnancy causes your vagina to produce more glycogen, making it even easier for yeast to grow there. Some researchers think estrogen may also have a direct effect on yeast, causing it to grow faster and stick more easily to the walls of the vagina.” (BabyCenter, 2011) Yeast thrives on sugars, meaning the hormonal changes your body undergoes in order to create the perfect growth environment for a fetus also generates a lovely atmosphere for yeast cells to prosper.
Though hormonal changes and weakened immune defenses are the most common culprits for yeast infections during pregnancy, they can also be caused by a number of other factors.