Ayurvedic Treatment For Infertility: Are They Effective?
WHO defines infertility as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse (1).”
While conventional medications and treatments are available, alternative medicines, especially Ayurveda, have also been in use as infertility remedy.
If you are planning to try Ayurvedic infertility treatment, consult a professional Ayurvedic practitioner who can guide you through the treatment.
In this MomJunction post, we acquaint you with the possible Ayurvedic approach for treating infertility in both men and women.
Can Ayurvedic Medicines Cure Infertility?
Ayurvedic medicines are believed to contribute towards improving health to increase the person’s fertility. A study found Ayurvedic medicines to be effective over conventional fertility treatments (2). The study noted that “Ayurvedic approach to fertility strives first to improve the health of the patient leading to a higher likelihood of pregnancy.”
The use of ayurvedic herbs, along with healthy dietary and lifestyle changes, may improve fertility to some extent. However, further research and clinical trials are required to prove that Ayurvedic treatment can cure infertility.
Ayurvedic Treatment For Female Infertility
The Ayurvedic treatment of female infertility involves the use of herbs and the changes in diet.
Ayurvedic herbs for female infertility
- Lodhra (Symplocos racemosa): Lodhra may help to restore the estrogen and progesterone ratio in the body (3). The herb may also help to elevate the levels of luteinizing hormone or LH and follicular stimulating hormone or FSH.
- Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris): Gokshura is a Vrishya (aphrodisiac) and may help to improve libido and alleviate female sexual dysfunction (4).
Ayurvedic dietary changes for female infertility
- According to Charaka Samhita, the fertility of a woman may be enhanced or treated by restoring her physical, mental, and emotional health to its natural equilibrium. To achieve equilibrium, Ayurveda suggests healthy changes in diet and lifestyle. Foods such as pumpkin, spinach, tomatoes, black cumin, beetroot, beans, are said to support this cause (5).
- Hot and spicy foods may adversely affect the female reproductive tissues (Artava Dhatu) and, thus, should be avoided.
- Some of the foods that may help to improve the Artava Dhatu or the female reproductive organs are dates, broccoli, and asparagus.
- Aamalaki (Emblia officinalis) and Shatawar (Asparagus racemosus) may also help to maintain the balance between FSH and LH (5)
Ayurvedic Treatment For Male Infertility
The Ayurvedic treatment approach towards male infertility also uses herbs and dietary changes.
Ayurvedic herbs for male infertility
- Kapikacchu (Mucuna pruriens): It may help improve libido. The herb may also enhance sperm quality and quantity (6).
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): It may also contribute towards increasing the libido and enhancing the semen parameters (7).
- Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus): It may help improve fertility by bringing about a significant reduction in oxidative stress (8).
- Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris): It may help elevate the testosterone level (8).
Ayurvedic dietary changes for male infertility
- According to Ayurveda, too much heat can increase the pitta, which, in turn, may weaken the Shukra Dhatu, which refers to the sperm and semen (9). Spicy foods may weaken the Shukra Dhatu and lower the sperm count.
- Some of the healthy foods and spices like turmeric, cumin, asparagus, dates, and almonds are said to improve Shukra Dhatu.
- Daily practice of yoga may help to improve sperm count, mobility, and quality. It may also help to improve the libido and incidences of erectile dysfunction (10).
Some Common Ayurvedic Therapies For Male And Female Infertility
Sometimes, infertility in both males and females may arise due to weakened digestive fire or Agni caused by unhealthy dietary practices). The weakened Agni may lead to the accumulation of toxins or Ama, mainly produced in the stomach due to incomplete digestion of food. The elevated Ama levels may block vital body organs and channels including, fallopian tubes. Therefore, to treat infertility, it is essential to eliminate the toxins or Ama from the body (5).
Panchakarma is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that aims at eliminating toxins from the body through detoxifying enemas, steam baths, oil massages, and dietary modifications. Below are a couple of therapies used in Panchakarma, along with other steps that could help alleviate infertility in both men and women.
- Shirodhara therapy
Shirodhara therapy mainly aims at restoring the hormonal balance. Shirodhara, as indicative of the name, involves pouring warm correcting therapeutic oils on the forehead (third eye area).The third eye area is known to be closely associated with the pineal as well as the pituitary gland. Hence, Shirodhara therapy may help restore the healthy production of hormones (including FSH, LH) by the pituitary glands. The therapy may also alleviate stress and anxiety, both of which may trigger fertility problems.
- Basti enema therapy
Basti therapy involves the administration of Ayurvedic enema or decoctions into the colon through the rectum to eliminate the toxins out of the body. In addition to restoring the healthy balance of Vata Dosha, Bast Therapy also facilitates the proper release of ovum from the ovarian follicles (11).
Some of the yoga poses, which may also help improve fertility include Bhujangasana (Cobra pose), Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand), Setu Bandhasana (Supported Bridge pose), and Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-wall pose). You may perform the yoga postures under expert supervision.
- Eliminating unhealthy habits
One should also adopt a healthy lifestyle and give up smoking, alcohol, aerated beverages, stale food, and caffeinated beverages (5).
What Causes Infertility According To Ayurveda?
Ayurveda considers Vata (Space and Air), Pitta (Fire and Water), and Kapha (Earth and Water) as the three vital doshas that contribute towards regulating the forces of nature. According to Ayurveda, an equilibrium between the three doshas goes a long way to enhance the overall health and well-being of an organism.
Any disruption in this equilibrium may have a negative influence on health, resulting in health conditions, including infertility. The following are some points about how an imbalance in the doshas may increase the risk of infertility (9) (12).
- The Vata Dosha is mainly responsible for the proper functioning of the entire reproductive physiology. Vitiation of this dosha may, therefore, affect the ovulation process, thereby affecting fertility. Severe stress, anxiety, fear, trauma, regular fasting, unhealthy eating habits, strenuous exercise, may all contribute towards disrupting the Vata balance.
- Vitiation of the Pitta Dosha may scar the fallopian tube, which may affect.
- The proper balance of Kapha Dosha is essential for the healthy functioning of the Shukra Dhatu. Vitiation of the Kapha Dosha may surface due to sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle practices, oily and spicy foods, or even cold. The vitiation may result in uterine fibroids or thickening of the fallopian tubes.
- Ayurveda also states that increased sexual activity may deplete the Shukra Dhatu (semen and sperm), which may result in infertility or Klehya.
- A decrease in Shukra Dhatu may also be triggered by excess heat.
- Unwillingness, mental stress, and anxiety of one or both the partners may also lead to infertility.
- Genetic factors may be a contributing factor too.
The Ayurvedic treatment with dietary modifications, yoga, pranayama, detoxification therapies (Panchakarma) aims at restoring the balance between the three governing doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) in the body. The balance between the three doshas may contribute towards boosting fertility in both sexes.
Consult a professional Ayurvedic practitioner to learn about the various infertility treatment methods. If you are already on a conventional, non-Ayurvedic treatment, then consult your doctor before adopting Ayurvedic infertility treatment methods.
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