As per World Health Organization (WHO), Infertility is a disorder of the reproductive system which is defined by the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more after regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
In one-third of couples, male infertility plays a major role. Male infertility is caused due to oligospermia or low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or blockages that prevent the motility of sperm.
As per WHO, less than 15 million sperms/ml in a sample of semen is called oligospermia.
What are the causes of Oligospermia?
The production of sperms is a complex process that requires the normal functioning of testicles as well as glands that secrete hormones. The organs and glands such as the hypothalamus and pituitary in the brain produce hormones that trigger sperm production. Once sperms are produced in the testicles, delicate tubes transport them until they get mixed with semen. Problems in any one of these systems can affect sperm production.
What are the symptoms of Oligospermia?
The main symptom of oligospermia is not having a child. There might be no other obvious signs. The symptoms might include:
- Problems with sexual function such as low sex drive or difficulty maintaining erection.
- Decreased facial or body hair due to hormone or chromosomal abnormality.
- Pain, swelling or lump in the testicle area.
Oligospermia according to Ayurveda:
In Ayurveda, healthy fertile semen is described as:
“shukram shuklam guru snigdham madhuram bahalam bahu ghritamaakshikatailabham sadgarbhaya”
Meaning: It means that semen which is white, heavy, white, sticky, sweet in taste, more in quantity, and which may look like the colour of ghee or honey or oil is always fertile.
The formation of Shukra dhAtu depends on a long chain of metabolic processes which starts from digestion, assimilation which leads to the formation of blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow, and Shukra dhAtu. Therefore, the health of this tissue is affected by the well-being of other body tissues. When it does not get optimum nutrition due to the factors such as unhealthy lifestyle, poor nutrition, poor digestion that creates the formation of Ama (toxins) within the system affect the reproductive system.
Oligospermia is found to have a close resemblance with Shukrakshaya or Ksheenashukra which is one of Ashtavidhasukradushti mentioned in Ayurvedic textbooks. It is caused due to the vitiation of both Vata and pitta doshas.
Ayurvedic Treatment of Oligospermia:
The treatment of sexual disorders comes under Vajikaran ChikitsA in Ayurveda. Vajikaran or Vrishya ChikitsA is one of the eight major specialties of ashtanga Ayurved. This study is concerned with aphrodisiacs, virility, and improving the health of progeny. As per Charak Samhita (ancient Ayurvedic text), by proper use of herbal formulations, one can be endowed with strength, sexually exhilarated, and sexually potent stage.
Ayurvedic treatment of oligospermia includes dosha cleansing and Rasayana therapy. Rasayana therapy includes prescription of herbs for building Ojas, rejuvenating the dhAtus (core tissues), reducing stress, etc. Such deep nourishment helps the body to make healthy and vital sperms.
Some herbs useful in the treatment of Oligospermia are:
- Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris): Gokshura herb is known for its utility in mootravAh srotas. It corrects the apAna vAta, along the lines similar to how Shukra Visarga is governed by apAna vAta.
- It also increases the production of testosterone hormone in a natural way.
- It is known to promote sperm production in males and ovulation in females. It is one of the reasons that this herb is used as an ingredient in many herbal medicines that are targeted towards male and female infertility.
- Thus, gokshura is effective in the management of oligospermia with lifestyle modification.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha is a very revered herb of Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine. It has immense health benefits.
- It is considered as a rasAyan (rejuvenator) in Ayurveda.
- Ashwagandha improves the functioning of reproductive organs. It is known as aphrodisiac.
- According to BhAvprakAsh Nighantu (ancient Ayurvedic text), Ashwagandha balances vAta and kapha doshas in the body. It boosts stamina, has rejuvenating properties and promotes secretion of semen.
- Safed Musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum): Safed musli is a very popular aphrodisiac herb. The roots of the plants are used, which are like small tubers. The tubers are rich in saponins and natural antioxidants. The description of safed musli is found in ancient Ayurvedic text called Raaj Nighantu.
- It is often prescribed for enhancing male potency and to overcome fatigue.
- It is particularly indicated for individuals for low sperm count and low libido.
- Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus): Shatavari is a well-known rasAyan herb useful in preventing ageing, increasing longevity, imparting immunity, improving mental function and vigor.
- According to Dhanvantri Nighantu, shatavari is cold, bitter and sweet in nature and wins over physical weakness. It pacifies vAta and pitta doshas, aphrodisiac and nourishing in nature.
- VidArikand (Puereria tuberosa): VidArikand is an Ayurvedic herb which is used as a general tonic, to improve body mass etc.
- It aggravates kapha and imparts nourishment, strength and virility.
- According to Bhavprakash Nighantu (ancient Ayurvedic text), VidArikand is sweet, smooth, promotes weight gain and enhances the production of semen.
- It pacifies pitta and vAta doshas and rejuvenating in nature.
- It is nourishing, aphrodisiac, improves vigor, improves sperm and semen quantity and quality.
Diet and Lifestyle:
- Include cow milk, milk products, fibre rich food in the diet.
- Intake of adequate fluid intake is recommended.
- Avoid taking bath with hot water.
- Wearing tight undergarments is not recommended.
- Application of cold packs over genitals for short duration is recommended.
- Cow ghee must be included in the diet as it is Madhurarasa (sweet in taste), yogvAhi (acts as a catalyst), brimhana (nourishing), agnidEpak (appetiser) and vAta-pitta shAmak (pacifies vAta and pitta dosha).
- Abhyanga (oil massage) is also recommended as it helps in dilation of superficial blood vessels, improves venous blood flow.
Thus, it can be concluded that oligospermia may be multifactorial and an integrated approach through Ayurvedic herbs and herbal formulations along with dietary and lifestyle modifications has a tremendous effect. Ayurvedic treatment pacifies the aggravated doshas and enhances the process of shukrotpaTi leading to the formation of uttama Shukra dhAtu which results in conception.
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