Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Fertility...an Ayurvedic view

In classic Ayurvedic teaching, the primary purpose of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman is to produce healthy children.  Sexual pleasure and gratification are secondary.  According to Ayurveda, an individual’s constitution and character are determined at the moment of conception, therefore potential parents have a responsibility to ensure, as far as possible, that they are in good health and that the sperm and egg are of high quality.  Preparation for having children should begin long before conception. 

Ayurveda has a number of recommendations for both men and women to ensure optimum fertility and hence successful conception.  (The Western approach tends to not intervene unless a couple experiences difficulty in conceiving).

Ayurveda embraces a simple perspective on male and female fertility…procreation being the ultimate creative act, and thus should be regarded with supreme respect and care.  The fertility of a human is viewed as the sum total of all digested foods and experiences, which includes the person’s mental state and emotions.  The logic behind this is based on principles of Ayurvedic anatomy and physiology.  The quality of the “digestive fire”, (also known as agni), tissues and the state of the energy cycles play a key role.  The fire is created from the digestive process eventually results in the formation of the sperm and so here it is clear that male health is of utmost importance when tackling fertility issues.  When the fire, energy cycle, mental and emotional states are functioning properly then the reproductive tissues can be nourished and fertility can take its natural course.

FEMALE
The Menstrual Cycle explained:

Kapha Phase: End of bleeding to ovulation is the time Kapha increases. (Oestrogen increases)

PittaPhase:      Ovulation to bleeding. (Progesterone is high and is secreted by the corpus luteum which prepares the endometrium for implantation and the breasts for milk production).

Vata Phase: Apana Vayu (the downward descending wind) pushes the menstrum down and out, therefore emptying the contents of the womb.

If there is any disturbance in any of these phases then they need to be balanced.  The main problems arise in the Vata phase where the downward descending energy becomes blocked (apana vayu).  This triggers fluctuations from pain, bloating, tiredness, anxiety, insomnia, irregular cycles, clots and eventually infertility.  The solution is to clear any obstructions and then tonify the female reproductive system with nourishing herbs.

MALE

Male infertility can be caused by a variety of defects (low volume, irregular sperm shape, low sperm motility, erectile dysfunction and obstructions).

Ayurveda has a fabulous repertoire of tonifying herbs for alleviating erectile dysfunctions, boosting sperm count, strengthening motility and enhancing the shape and form of the sperm.  Herbs such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) or Kapikacchu (Mucuna pruriens) are particularly good for improving sperm count, form and function.


DIET

There are certain foods which have an affinity for the reproductive system which should be included in your diet if you are planning to conceive.  These foods usually possess a sweetness in nature, have nourishing and building properties in the body.

Nuts- almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seed
Dairy-milk, cream, ghee
Fruits-dates, grapes, pomegranates
Seafood-seaweed
Flowers-rose, saffron, jasmine
..and also Ayurvedic herbal preparations which are prescribed by a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner.


INFERTILITY

Infertility can be caused by the following:

  • Damage to reproductive tissues by infection or trauma
  • Eating too much spice, salty, hot foods which increase Pitta and destroys the semen.
  • Overindulgence in sexual activity.
  • Poor nutrition to the reproductive tissues due to malnutrition, poor digestion or obstruction by toxins.

General Considerations:

  • Understand both partners Ayurvedic constitution (Vata, pitta, kapha), by consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor.
  • Clear obstruction to energy flow
  • Tonify weaknesses in the reproductive tissues
  • Ensure the digestive fire is strong
  • Ensure the nervous system is relaxed
  • Panchakarma treatments particularly sneha and sweda (oil and sweat therapy) and herbs also aid the detox process, preparing the body for healthy conception.


Today, a large number of people suffer from medical conditions that affect fertility.  This is mainly due to an unnatural lifestyle, working against the environment and seasons, toxicity through food and environmental pollutants, and the misuse of drugs and chemicals.  Conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, irregular menstrual cycles, and pelvic inflammation which can adversely affect fertility can be treated with ayurvedic treatments.  The treatments used in Ayurveda, such as the herbs, marmapuncture and dietary advice can be applied in conjunction with IVF treatment programmes.  Ayurveda is also known to prevent recurrent miscarriages.


Stress which can arise from an unsettled relationship, or external pressure from work or the environment should be addressed. Additionally, both partners should evaluate their diet, lifestyle and stresses at least a year in advance to conception, which should be conducted according to their current “Dosha State” (Vata, pitta or kapha).  A balanced state of mind is also vital, this is where yoga and meditation will help. 

Ayurveda also recommends that both partners start to take interest in aspect of parenthood which lies before them once conception is complete, such as getting involved with babies and children.  Giving up bad habits such as smoking, excess drinking, drugs etc is strongly advised.

The best way to improve fertility and increase your chances of bringing the wonderful gift of a child into your life is to look at the relationship you have with your partner.  A loving, caring bond between the male and female is central to the wellbeing and conception of a healthy child as well as the individual health and well being of both partners retrospectively.  Ayurvedic texts describe that to love and be loved is the best from of fertility treatment for both partners.  Just as a bird will prepare and build her nest to ensure the growth and protection of her eggs well in advance of laying them…we too should prepare, nurture and build our strength, through body and mind to optimize our chances of conception. 

Our qualified Ayurvedic specialist at Health & Harmony has helped many other people with the above as well as other ailments. Book now for a consultation. 



Health & Harmony



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