Infertility- Truths behind the Mythical Curtain

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Infertility- Truths behind the Mythical Curtain

According to WHO, infertility is the disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the inability to conceive even after at least one year of regu

Abstract

According to WHO, infertility is the disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the inability to conceive even after at least one year of regular unprotected intercourse. Statistics show that about 48 million couples live with infertility. It is so common these days that we see infertility clinics mining a fortune out of this.

WHEN DOES IT HAPPEN?

To get pregnant, the following conditions need to be satisfied

  • A healthy ovum
  • Healthy sperm
  • Formation of the embryo after their fusion
  • Proper implantation of the embryo inside the uterus.

Infertility can happen if any of these are not met. It may be because of the structural deformities of male and female reproductive organs, hormonal imbalance, or other causes like diabetes or PCOS.

When Does it Happen?

The male factors

  1. Sperm defects- low count, low motility, morphological changes.
  2. Erectile dysfunction and the lack of libido
  3. Hormonal disorders
  4. Genetic disorders

THE FEMALE FACTORS

  1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  2. Hormonal problems
  3. Sexual dysfunction- lack of libido, vaginismus, dyspareunia ( painful coitus)
  4. Morphological abnormalities of the uterus and fallopian tubes.

As we can see, both partners equally contribute to the causes of infertility, but in most societies, it is considered to be a women's problem.

THE PATRIARCHAL BIGOTRY

Infertility is something that is highly stigmatized, and the stigma especially hovers around women. Sadly even in this century, women are being tortured for not having children or not wanting one. What could be the possible reason for this? The answer, in short, is patriarchy. Patriarchy is an age-old practice that has rooted in different layers of society, and that is the prime reason why we have gender roles assigned to us. Man is always considered to be the provider, and woman, the caretaker. Both men and women suffer a lot from this social construct. While men were vested with all the burdens of the family so that he had to devote most of his life to raising his people, women were excluded from making decisions in matters from pleasure to periods to parturition. The same continues to date, irrespective of culture and country; and that is where we find the baseless arguments about infertility in which women stand accused.

Even from the times of yore, fertility is connected to femininity. Ours is a history that worshiped fertility gods and thanked 'mother' earth for a good yield. Being a mother was thought to be virtuous and exemplary. Women without children were shamed and shunned. Social algorithms went this way and the underlying causes were left unsearched. As a result, we became conditioned to believe that infertility is solely the responsibility of women. Such toxic conditioning is easy to spread in a society that considers motherhood to be the only divine and sacred thing in a woman's life. It is high time we smash these taboos and break the bars. The change should start from our families- let's provide our sons and daughters with proper sex education. Through the right knowledge comes the wisdom to say 'no' to gender stereotyping and bias.

INFERTILITY IN AYURVEDA

Vandhyathva is the common term used for infertility by Ayurvedic scholars. According to Ayurveda, there are 4 factors that lead to the formation of a healthy progeny

  1. Ritu- means season, can be correlated to the ovulatory period.
  2. Kshethra- healthy uterus to host the embryo.
  3. Ambu- the nourishment, amniotic fluid etc.
  4. Bija- healthy sperm and ovum.

MANAGEMENT OF MALE INFERTILITY

  1. Semen purifying drugs- Kushta(Saussurea lappa), Elavaluka (Prunus cerasus), Katphala (Myrica esculenta), Ikshu (Saccharum officinarum), Usira (Vetiveria zizanioides)
  2. Semen increasing drugs- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Kapikacchu (Mucuna pruriens), Jivaka (Malaxis acuminata)
  3. Rejuvenators like Chyavanaprash, Aswagandhadi lehyam, Shilajit rasayan

MANAGEMENT OF FEMALE INFERTILITY

  • Purifying therapies such as Uttarabasti
  • Herbs like Asoka (Saraca asoka), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Guggulu (Commiphora mukul), Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa)
  • Medicines like Asokarishta, Kanchanara Guggulu, Phala Ghrita.

WELLNESS THROUGH AYURVEDA

Lifestyle disorders also pave the way to infertility. Obesity, uncontrolled blood pressure, diabetes, etc are widespread globally and play a key role in causing pregnancy-related problems. Choosing a healthy and happy lifestyle is rewarding. Ayurveda has some principles that would help to keep your body active and youthful.

FOOD

Ayurveda advises consuming food according to season and environment without affecting the balance of Tridoshas and the digestive fire. Foods that can be used generally include milk, ghee, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, dates, garlic, whole grains, honey etc. Light preparations such as gruel help to take the burden off your stomach and fresh juicy fruits provide the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Sprouted legumes are always a bonus- they are the source of antioxidants that help fight cell damage. A dash of ginger, garlic, cardamom, and pepper would spice up your diet too.

FOODS THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED ARE

Fried and canned materials, red meat, excess alcohol, excess caffeine, tobacco and refined carbohydrates.

YOGA

Yoga is not only for attaining physical fitness but for managing some health issues too. Infertility has a lot to do with hormonal problems. Yoga Asanas like Sarvangasana (the shoulder stand), Setu Bandhasana (the bridge pose), Uttana Shishosana (the puppy pose), Virabhadrasana (the warrior pose), Shalabhasana (the butterfly pose) control the neurohormonal axis, boost the blood flow to the reproductive organs, increase flexibility and libido.

VAJIKARANA (APHRODISIAC) THERAPY

Vajikarana is a branch of Ayurveda that helps one to lead a sexually healthy life. It is concerned with increasing the virility and potency of both men and women. It involves body purification, consuming herbal and herbomineral formulations, oil massages, herbal baths and employing mind pleasing activities like listening to music, using fragrances etc.

Can you believe that an age-old practice such as Ayurveda offers this much to benefit humankind? It is indeed a gem that we don't know the value of. Ayurveda always advocates the aspect of prevention, and there is no better weapon than a healthy lifestyle to prevent diseases. There is no right way to live life, but just the healthy way.

SO CHOOSE THE LIFESTYLE THAT BEFITS AND BENEFITS YOU!