IVF or in vitro fertilization is nowadays a preferred modern medical technique used to treat different causes of infertility like structural issues, severe male factor infertility blocked fallopian tubes, etc. But IVF has its own limitations for example it cannot help if the quality of eggs or sperm is poor and the reproductive system is not healthy. It focuses on forced conception even if the body is not prepared for it. This is the reason that almost 70% of IVF cycles fail nowadays.
Ayurveda, on the other hand, is a traditional system of medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years in India. It focuses on balancing the body’s energies (doshas- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) and improving overall health through natural remedies, including herbs, diet, lifestyle modifications, and detoxification. For infertility treatment in Ayurveda, the first focus is on preparing the body for conception. Let’s go through some of the main elements :
Diet and Lifestyle Changes: Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. It involves strict compliance and adherence to foods that increase Ojas and avoid the substances that diminish the Ojas. “Ojas” is a fundamental concept that refers to the vital essence or energy that is responsible for maintaining overall health, vitality, and immunity in the body. It is considered the most refined product of digestion and is closely related to the balance of all the bodily systems.
Ojas building food includes milk, ghee, nuts, sesame seeds, dates, melon seeds, honey, saffron, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein from plant sources like beans, and peas, whole grains, spices such as ajwain, turmeric, cumin and black cumin boost fertility. Foods with processed/ refined carbohydrates, antibiotic and hormone-laden meat and milk, alcohol, caffeine, and canned and packaged products destroy fertility.
According to Ayurveda, all Sapta Dhatus, the seven kinds of tissues that the body has-Rasa (plasma), Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscles), Meda (fatty tissue), Asthi (bones), Majja (bone marrow), Shukra (semen in male and ovum in female) are nourished through Aahar (Diet). Diet plays a vital role in improving and maintaining the health of the ovum and quality of sperm thereby increasing the chances of healthy progeny.
We are blessed to have a bountiful supply of herbs and spices that are enriched with immense therapeutic qualities supplying the body with essential phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to promote longevity and vitality of the body and mind.
Herbal Remedies and Supplements: Ayurvedic practitioners may prescribe herbal formulations to address specific fertility issues. Shatavari is a commonly used herb for the infertility treatment of females. Many other herbs like Guduchi, Gokshura, Lodhra, Ashoka, Punarnava, and Triphala churna are used to remove blockages and boost the fertility process as well. Ashwagandha and kapikacchu (Mucuna) are believed to have potential benefits for reproductive health boosting fertility amongst men. Ayurvedic practitioners may recommend specific supplements or formulations tailored to an individual’s needs to address hormonal imbalances and support reproductive health.
Panchakarma: Panchakarma is a series of detoxification and cleansing procedures used in Ayurveda. It aims to remove toxins from the body and balance the doshas (the three fundamental energies in Ayurveda) to improve overall health and potentially enhance fertility. Panchakarma therapy consists of five cleansing aspects: Emesis/vomiting (Vamana), Purgation (Virechana), Medicated enema (Basti), Medicated nasal oils (Nasya), Toxic bloodletting (Rakta moksha). These steps are designed to remove toxins from the body. Cleansing and detoxifying the body may help improve overall health, potentially creating a more favorable environment for fertility. Preparation steps of panchakarma also include oil massages (Snehana) and heat treatments to induce sweating(Swedana) to prime your body for detoxification.
Stress can be a contributing factor to infertility. Therapies like Abhyanga (oil massage) and Shirodhara (a soothing oil or herbal treatment for the forehead) can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Nasya Therapy: Nasya involves the administration of herbal oils or medicated substances through the nasal passages. This therapy is believed to have a positive impact on reproductive health and hormonal balance.
Basti Therapy: Basti is a form of enema therapy that can be used to treat various health conditions, including infertility. It is thought to cleanse and nourish the reproductive system. Uttar Basti therapy can be used to open Fallopian tubes without surgery. In this procedure, medicated herbal oils are administered in the uterus through the vagina in a simple technique after fertility massage. As per practitioners, it is a painless procedure without any side effects.
Yoga and Pranayama
Yoga and pranayama can be valuable tools for individuals and couples looking to improve their fertility. The practice of yoga offers a holistic approach to enhancing fertility by addressing physical, mental, and emotional aspects of well-being. Yoga promotes overall physical health and wellness, which is crucial for fertility. Regular yoga and pranayama practice can help to maintain a healthy body weight, regulate hormones, and improve blood circulation, all of which can have a positive impact on reproductive health.
Specific yoga poses, such as those that focus on the pelvic area, can also stimulate and tone the reproductive organs, potentially improving their function. Yoga is also renowned for its stress-reducing benefits. Stress can be a significant factor in infertility, as it can disrupt hormonal balance and interfere with the menstrual cycle. Relaxation techniques, including deep breathing and meditation, can help reduce stress levels, promoting a more conducive environment for conception. Additionally, it can improve mental and emotional well-being, enhancing the overall sense of positivity and self-esteem. The journey towards fertility can be emotionally challenging, and yoga can provide tools to cope with the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies fertility struggles.
There is nothing more stressful for a patient than facing repeated IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss following IVF. On one hand, where IVF focuses on just fertilization and conception, ayurveda has a more holistic approach including all aspects of reproduction like nourishment, detoxification, regularising metabolism of the body, purifying reproductive organs, maintaining hormonal equilibrium, improving endometrium (uterus) lining and receptivity, increasing egg and sperm quality and relieving stress and strengthening of the reproductive system. Moreover, supplements are all natural and practices do not have any side effects.