According to World Health Organization (WHO), infertility is defined as an inability of the couple to conceive after one year or more of unprotected intercourse.
Infertility is not a disease by itself but it is a manifestation of some disease. It has increased tremendously in the past decade due to the combination of social, environment, psychological and environmental factors. The causes of infertility can be diagnosed through various modern equipment that are available today. A number of treatments are available in modern medicine to treat infertility but the cost of treatment is not afforded by all.
Concept of Infertility according to Ayurveda:
Infertility is described as Vandhyattva in Ayurveda and it has been described in detail. As per principles of Ayurveda, imbalance in Aarttava vaaha srotas is the principal cause of Vandhyattva. There are different causes of infertility described in Ayurvedic texts.
Vaajikarna is the branch of Ayurvedic medicine that deals with the issues of klaivvya/impotency resultinginto infertility. Guhyaroga is the term used for the diseases of female reproductive system. Garbhroga is the term used for the diseases of uterus whereas Yoni Vyaapatt refers to the diseases of the vagina. Ayurveda states that conception is the result of healthy sperm, healthy ovum and healthy uterus. Reproductive health of both man and woman depends on the health of shukra dhaatu. The shukra dhaatu is created as a part of a long chain of metabolic transformations, starting with the digestion of food including the transformation of the Dhaatu, which depends on the health of all other tissues in the body.
Types of Infertility as written in classical texts:
- Vandhyattva: absolute sterility that is incurable
- Apraja: curable and woman can conceive
- Sapraja: woman become inflicted with infertility in childbearing years after already conceiving one or more children.
- Menstrual cycle is considered as an indicator of the state of the reproductive health in females. It can be affected by many factors such as diet, emotional instability, hormonal imbalance, excessive physical exercise, stress etc. These factors are responsible for creating imbalance in the doshas.
- The most easily disturbed dosha in the body is Vaata dosha. It causes functional defects in the reproductive system and is often responsible for infertility. However, infertility rarely is caused due to the imbalance of one dosha only.
Women with aggravated Pitta dosha experience infertility due to the scarring of the fallopian tubes, inhibiting the ascent of the sperm or descent of the ovum. Excessive pitta is also responsible for the depletion of sperms in males.
- On the other hand, people with Kaphaj prakriti/nature due to the dominance of water element in their constitution support the shukra dhatu and these people have healthiest reproductive system.
- Infertility in kapha dominant people is initiated by the intake of cold and oily diet along with sedentary lifestyle.
- In females, when kapha dosha is predominant, it may lead to thickening of the fallopian tubes, uterine fibroids may develop and often involves the displacement of Vaata and Pitta doshas.
The Ayurvedic approach to Infertility:
Ayurveda promotes health by balancing the three doshas and by providing strength to the system. It focuses on the treatment of infertility holistically with the aim of improving the overall health of the individual.
According to Master Charak, “the single most important factor in the build up of Aama (toxins created by the undigested food) is the disruptive Agni (digestive fire) and majority of the disorders occur due to the imbalance of Agni. Therefore, the treatment of formation of Aama must be done for treating infertility as healthy digestive fire will also contribute to the elimination of blockages and weakness in the body.
Ayurvedic Herbs for the treatment of Infertility:
- Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus): Shatavari is a powerful therapeutic agent. It is considered as a Rasayana/rejuvenator in Ayurveda. The roots of this plant are used for therapeutic purposes.
- Shatavari is considered as a best friend of females as it helps the women of all age groups.
- It strengthens the uterus and useful in infertility.
- In males, it is beneficial to contain spermatorrhoea and strengthen the sluggish sperms.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha is a potent adaptogen and aphrodisiac herb used in the treatment of impotency, infertility etc.
- It is also used for infertility of unknown aetiology.
- Ashwagandha is considered as a Rasayana (potent rejuvenative agent).
- It is acknowledged to increase vitality and longevity.
- Ashwagandha is prescribed for uterine weakness, recurrent miscarriages, leucorrhoea, infertility of unknown origin in females.
- Chyawanprash: Chyawanprash is an extremely useful formulation for infertility as it helps in creating the synergistic hormonal balance between the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and the Lutenizing Hormone (LH).
- Medicated Ghee: Medicated ghee such as Phal Ghrita, Kalyana Ghrita, Dadimadi Ghrita etc. are commonly used.
These herbs help in regulating the menstrual cycle in women, enhancing their general health and wellness, invigorate spermatogenesis in men i.e., enhances sperm count, morphology and motility, reduce stress, balance the endocrine system, improve blood flow in the pelvic cavity thereby promote fertility.
These medicines also help in increasing the chances of pregnancy in women undergoing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Diet plays a crucial and vital role along with the treatment of infertility.
- Ojas building foods such as milk, cow ghee, nuts, sesame seeds, dates, saffron, honey, pumpkin seeds, avocados etc. should be included in the diet.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables must be taken.
- Spices such as turmeric and carom seeds must be included as they improve the interaction between the hormones and targeted tissues.
- Intake of cumin seeds must be done as cumin purifies the uterus in women and the genitourinary tract in men.
- Foods such as grains, root vegetables, garlic etc. improve the circulation and nourish the blood as well.
- Jaggery and black sesame seeds should be consumed as both of these are the rich source of iron. Black sesame seeds are a rich source of Vitamin E as well. The phytochemicals present in black sesame seeds modulate hormonal changes in the female body.
- Diet should be free from transfats, refined flour, frozen and packaged foods as they block the arteries and harm the heart and blood vessels as well.
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