Infertility management in Ayurveda
This topic provides information about management of infertility in Ayurveda.
What is Infertility according to Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a woman of reproductive age to contribute to conception & also the state of a woman who is unable to carry pregnancy to full term. Infertility is also defined as the failure to conceive after a year of regular intercourse without contraception according to modern science.
The problem of infertility is fairly common nowadays and it has become need of the hour to find out solution which is having less complications & affordable. Ayurvedic background about importance of treatment of Infertility is fully explored in ancient literature Atharvaveda.
Causes of infertility
Infertility may be due to male or female factors. Causes of infertility in woman include ovarian factors, tubal factors, age-related factors, uterine problems, PCOS, endometriosis etc. Menstrual cycle can be affected by many factors, such as diet, emotional instability, excessive physical exercise, life-style, and stress responsible for creating an imbalance of the Doshas (control the activities of the body-Vata, Pitta and Kapha).
Male infertility is usually caused by problems that affect either sperm production or sperm transport which include varicocele, infections, ejaculation problems, tumours, hormone imbalances, defects of tubules that transport sperm etc.
In Ayurveda main cause of any abnormal function in body is agnimandya (vitiation of the digestive fire of body) & tridosha dushti (vitiation of three governing factors of body).
Management of infertility in Ayurveda
Ayurveda supports health by strengthening 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 on the treatment of infertility holistically with an aim of improving the overall health and quality of life of the individual.
Diet plays a vital role in the prevention and cure of diseases and in maintenance of good health. "Annam Brahmam" - Food has been compared to God, in the ancient Indian scriptures since it is the main factor for sustaining and nourishing life.
Dietary management involves strict compliance and adherence to foods that increase Ojus (an intersection factor of physical, mental and spiritual health of the body, responsible for overall health, energy and liveliness) and to avoid the substances which diminish the Ojas.
This is important to regulate ovulation and enhances fertilization. Eating whole foods provides all nutrients for the health of the body in addition to the fibres that influences hormonal levels of the body. Foods such as processed carbohydrates, excess starch, antibiotic and hormone laden meat and milk and canned produce destroy fertility.
Ojas building food include as milk, ghee, nuts, sesame seeds, dates, pumpkin seeds, honey, saffron and avocados, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, protein from plant sources like beans, and peas, sweet, whole grains, spices such as ajwain powder, turmeric (improves the interaction between hormones and targeted tissues), cumin (purifies the uterus in women and the genitourinary tract in men) and black cumin boost fertility.
Diet should be free from Trans-fats as they block arteries, threaten fertility and harm the heart and blood vessels and therefore, must be avoided. Foods containing preservatives and other chemicals, like artificial sweeteners, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), diet high in fat and other artificial flavouring and colouring, excess alcohol and caffeine, tobacco, soda, smoking, red meat, refined carbohydrates, such as pasta, white bread, rice etc can exacerbate the problem of infertility.
Treatment principles of Infertility in Ayurveda
- Agni deepana and Ama pachana
Ama formation (toxins created when undigested food forms in the stomach) by the imbalance in Agni (the power of digestion) lead to many diseases. Therefore, the treatment of Ama must always include the treatment of Agni, including the use of digestive and carminative Ayurvedic formulations, eating meals at proper time following an appropriate schedule. Ayurveda Panchakarma treatments help to eliminate Ama thus corrects Agni. Healthy Agni will also contribute to healthy Ojas.
The main dosha involved in infertility is Vata. So Vatanulomana (correcting the functions of Vata) is very important in the treatment of infertility. Ayurvedic formulations, following routine exercises and strict diet schedule will help in Vatanulomana.
Suitable sneha-swedas are done prior to sodhana. Then treatment modalities like Vamana (emesis), Virechana (puragation), Vasti (medicated enema) and Utharavasti special enema administered through urethral or vaginal routes) are done as per the condition of the patient. The patient has to follow peyadi krama (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 dhatus of the body and pacifying Vata.
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 useful 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 is used in the treatment of infertility with the purpose of correcting an organic or functional problem that causes infertility.
Ayurvedic herbs used in the treatment for infertility:
- Ovulation disorder - Ashoka, Dashmoola, Shatavari, Aloe vera, Guggulu etc.
- Premature ovarian failure (POF) - Ashoka, Dashmoola, Shatavari, Guduchi, Jeevanti etc.
- Blocked fallopian tubes, adhesions (scar tissue) and pelvic inflammatory disease - Guduchi, Punarnava etc.