Saturday, January 26, 2013

The bugs in your stomach

As the title suggests, this will be one of my technical posts. Just FYI, you have a trillion bacteria (I'm not making that number up), in your stomach. They have a tremendous effect on your health, both good and bad.

Staring with my story--the first time I got pregnant, maybe a month and a half into the whole thing, I noticed I was getting a baby bump of sorts- there was this very distinctive mild distention between the navel and diaphragm. I figured, wrongly, naively,  maybe it was because my uterus pushing up, the rest of my internal structure was getting 'rearranged'.

The next time I got pregnant, I saw that distention become even more pronounced, and I knew it portended I was pregnant, and this was by like 8 DPO, which is kind of crazy.

The 3rd time I was pregnant, I knew it because of the much worse heartburn and that immediate distention, again, manifesting around day 8 post ovulation. 

Many months/years later, I've finally connected  the dots..that 'bump' is because of heartburn.

Turns out, like a good proprtion of the world's population, I have GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or in simple terms, acid reflux.The list of risk factors for GERD, not surprisingly, include pregnancy- I'm convinced progesterone plays a role, because every time my luteal phase rolls around, the problem gets a bit more pronounced.

 This month, my heartburn got bad, finally, making me look into it. The first thing I did was get a H. Pylori test done, because this bug is strongly linked to GERD or heartburn- I have the antibodies for it, which means I'm infected. An astonishing 80 % of Indians are H. Pylori positive, so its not surprising that I am.

Here is another interesting thing- H. pylori is also linked to PCOS, because a higher % of women with PCOS are positive (40 % of PCOS  vs 22 % of normal countrols).

Importantly, not all H Pylori are the same- there are some 'super' H pylori, these are positive for the Cag A mutation.  Turns out, infection with the Cag A+ H. pylori (but not normal H pylori) is linked to a higher risk for early pregnancy loss.   Its can also, possibly contribute to both male and female infertility by other means as well. Lots of literature on this.

Moral of the story- If you are infertile, may be worth it to order a H. pylori test (especially if you have GERD), and if it comes out positive, try an H. pylori eradication. This bug also increases risk for duodenal ulcers and stomach cancer , so yeah, If you have it, trying to get rid of it is definitely recommended, just in case you have the Cag A strain.

I'm saying try, because getting rid of this bug is difficult as hell.  If you take the triple therapy recommended in combination with N-acetyl cysteine, you chances get as high as 50 %.  That is really shitty, but what can you do? Also, during the eradication and after, and just, as a general rule of thumb, I'd advice going crazy with the probiotics. The bacteria in your stomach can have a tremendous influence on health, research now shows. This is one of the hottest topics in science right now. Maybe more on that someday, but all of you can just google and get educated on this.

In non sciency news- The surrogate's cycle is underway. Transfer in maybe 13 days! Scary! But hey, she is proven- 2 kids, full term, no issues. I wonder what the hell is right with her, and wrong with me. But then as my blog, and this very post highlights, there are many, many roads to infertility.


  1. Very exciting news about the surrogate! Looking forward to the updates and keeping everything crossed! 

  2. So exciting about the surrogate! And interesting about H pylori... surprises me that 80% of Indians would have it, but I guess that often happens with health issues (like Jewish people being way more likely to have Crohn's). Keep us posted with how the retrieval goes!

  3. Very best of luck to you & your surrogate

  4. Good thoughts, prayers, vibes and more to your embryo and your surrogate.  I think of you often and want this to work for you!  Hugs.