According to Ayurveda, infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a woman of reproductive age to contribute to conception. There is also the issue of a woman who is unable to carry pregnancy to full term. Infertility, according to allopathic medicine, is also defined as the failure to conceive after a year of regular intercourse without contraception.
Infertility is becoming more common nowadays due to shifts in lifestyle and diet. So there has become an increasing need to find a solution. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is normally the chosen medical route women take; however this can often be emotionally challenging (for both partners) as well as an invasive form of treatment.
More and more women are seeking an approach that is less invasive; an approach that has fewer complications; an approach which is less emotionally taxing and of course choosing an approach that is more affordable.
Causes of Infertility
Infertility is very often, and naturally, associated with the female. However male factors also play a large part. Causes of infertility in women can include ovarian elements, tubal factors, age-related considerations, uterine problems, Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and fibroid complications etc. A woman's menstrual cycle can also play a major part and can be affected by many influences, such as poor diet, emotional instability and stress, excessive physical exercise, life-style related issues and occupation, can all be responsible for creating an imbalance of the Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha).
So let's talk about the 'less talked about 'issue of male infertility. This is usually characterised by problems that affect either sperm production or sperm transport (which include varicocele), Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), ejaculation problems, tumours, hormone (testosterone) imbalances, defects of tubules that transport the sperm etc.
In Ayurveda, both the male and females are considered for treatment of infertility. This is in order for both to be optimally prepared, as well as supportive of one another, through the treatment process. As for both males and females, the main cause of any abnormal function in the body is agni mandya (aggravation or incorrect digestive fire) as well as tri-dosha dushti (vitiation of all three governing factors of body Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Therefore, your Ayurvedic Practitioner would look to address both of these vitiations in the treatment process for the couple.
Treatment of Infertility in Ayurveda
It is important to note that Ayurveda supports one's health by strengthening the body's own self-healing and balancing mechanisms and doesn't rely on intervention by any outside or foreign substance to replace or correct the hormones in the body. It focuses primarily on the treatment of infertility holistically, with an aim of improving the overall health and quality of life of the individual in the most natural and gentle way.
Dietary Role in Ayurvedic Treatment.
Diet plays a vital and pivotal role in the prevention and cure of diseases and in maintenance of good health. Therefore Ayurvedic treatment involves a strict compliance and adherence to foods that increase Ojas (an intersection factor of physical, mental and spiritual health of the body, responsible for overall health, energy and 'life-giving' qualities) and to avoid the substances which diminish the Ojas.
As part of the treatment it is imperative to regulate ovulation and to enhance fertilisation. Eating whole foods, rather than processed foods, provides all of the nutrients for the health of the body. This is in addition to fiber intake that influences and regulates hormonal levels of the body. Foods such as processed carbohydrates, excess starches; non-organic, antibiotic and hormone laden meat and dairy produce; as well as preserved canned produce, all contribute to destroying fertility.
Ojas building foods include milk, ghee, nuts, sesame seeds, dates, pumpkin seeds, honey, saffron and avocados, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, protein from plant sources (such as lentils, beans, pulses and peas), sweet foods, whole grains, spices (such as ajwain powder), turmeric (in small quantities improves the interaction between hormones and targeted tissues), cumin (purifies the uterus in women and the genito-urinary tract in men) and black cumin boosts fertility.
Diet should also be free from trans-fats as they block arteries, increase the number of free-radicals (cancer causing atoms), threatens fertility and harms the heart and blood vessels and therefore, must be avoided. Foods containing preservatives and other chemicals, like artificial sweeteners, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), diets high in fat and artificial flavouring and colouring, excess alcohol and caffeine, tobacco, carbonated drinks, smoking, red meat, refined carbohydrates (such as pasta, white bread) etc. can exacerbate the problem of infertility.
Treatment Principles of Infertility in Ayurveda Increase Digestive Fire (Agni Deepana) and Dispel Toxins (Ama Pachana)
Ama formation (toxins created when undigested food forms in the stomach) by the imbalance of Agni (the power of digestion) leads to many diseases. Therefore, the treatment of Ama must always include the treatment of Agni, including the use of digestive and Ayurvedic formulations. This includes eating meals at a proper time following an appropriate schedule. Ayurveda Panchakarma treatments help to eliminate Ama thus correcting one's Agni. Healthy Agni will also contribute to healthy Ojas in the body.
The main dosha involved in infertility is Vata. So correcting the functions of Vata (Vatanulomana) is crucial in the treatment of infertility. Ayurvedic formulations, following routine exercises and following a strict diet schedule will help in Vatanulomana.
The patient has to follow a strict dietary regimen to be followed after Sodhana. This detoxification therapy helps in the expulsion of the toxins from the body. These therapies help to correct ovarian, tubular and uterine problems causing infertility.
Ayurveda treatments help in releasing tension and removing impurities from the body. They nourish the body, revitalize the mind and strengthen the immune system. They are beneficial in reducing stress, nourishing all tissues (dhatus) of the body and pacifying Vata.
Organic Ayurvedic Herbal Medication
Infertility itself does not stand alone. It is the result of some other disease. So the herbs used in the treatment are directed towards eradicating the underlying cause. The most commonly known and used herbs such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemousus), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) are extremely beneficial formulations which help create the synergistic hormonal balance between the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and the Luteinizing Hormone (LH).
No individual herb alone is considered useful for promoting fertility. Therefore, a combination of herbs are used in the treatment of infertility with the purpose of correcting an organic or functional problem that causes infertility.
Other Ayurvedic herbs used in the treatment for infertility:
The right combination of herbs helps in regulating menstrual cycles, enhancing general health and wellness, revitalising sperm (enhancing a man's sperm count, morphology and motility), reducing stress, enhancing sleep, controlling anxiety and increasing energy levels, balancing the endocrine system and improving blood flow in the pelvic cavity, thereby promoting fertility.
Please note that all of the advice and guidance relating to the Ayurvedic treatment of infertility and associated diseases (including the use of herbal medicines noted here) are for knowledge purposes only. The correct dosage should be administered by a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner. I emphasise that 'one should NEVER self-diagnose'. The herbs mentioned in this article can be potent and can have contraindications; so they need to be treated with the utmost respect. The same as you would respect the dosage with prescribed drugs from your GP or doctor, the same applies to Ayurvedic medication.
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