Fertility Problems: The Ayurvedic Perspective
Nans and Jonathan started planning their family even before they were married. "That was something we both wanted — at least two children," says Nans. Ten years later, they have tried every kind of fertility treatment available, some of them painful and all of them expensive. "What seemed like such a simple desire has become an impossible quest," says Nans. They are now looking into adoption, but still wish with all their hearts to conceive.
Stories like Nans' and Jonathan's are more and more common today — much more so than they were even fifty years ago. Studies show that the average sperm count has decreased by 48 percent since 1940. Women's fertility is also on the decline. There are many theories about why this is the case, but many researchers believe increased pesticides and chemical fertilizers could be a cause, as well as the high levels of stress associated with modern life.
Couples such as Nans and Jonathan may now find help from Maharishi Ayurveda, which places great emphasis on health and well-being during conception and beyond. Not only does ayurveda explain how to increase fertility with diet, behaviors, and herbal supplements, but it also focuses on how to create truly healthy children.
"The ayurvedic ideal goes far beyond merely conceiving. Instead the emphasis is on creating a child who is mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy — a wise and well-rounded child who will contribute to society and become an enlightened citizen."
Factors Involved in Creating a Healthy Child
What are the factors involved in creating a healthy child? According to Maharishi Ayurveda, conception takes place due to healthy sperm, a healthy ovum, and a healthy uterus. For both men and women, reproductive health depends on the health of the shukra dhatu, or reproductive tissue. In women the shukra tissue creates the ovum as part of the monthly cycle, and in men the semen is formed due to sexual stimulation.
The shukra tissue itself is created as part of a long chain of metabolic transformations, starting with the digestion of food and including the transformation of food to nutrient fluid, blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow and finally, to shukra tissue.
Healthy shukra tissue, then, according to ayurveda, depends on the health of all the other tissues (dhatus) in the body.
Diet and Behaviors to Boost Fertility
There are two kinds of foods and herbs that help enhance shukra dhatu, and therefore help enhance fertility. One is called bringhana, and these foods enhance shukra by enhancing all the seven dhatus. Vrishya foods and herbs target shukra dhatu in particular.
Because the first six dhatus are the raw material for forming the reproductive dhatu, all of the dhatus must be completely healthy in order to form healthy reproductive tissue. That's why the bringhana diet, which nourishes all the seven dhatus, are so important if you wish to conceive.
Foods to Nourish All Seven Dhatus (Bringhana)
- Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Dairy proteins, including milk, lassi, and panir (a fresh cheese made of milk)
- Mung dhal
- Soaked almonds or soaked walnuts (you can grind them and add them to your vegetables)
- Sweet, juicy fruits such as mangoes, peaches, plums, and pears
- Dried fruits such as dates, figs, and raisins
- Stewed apple for breakfast
- If your digestion is strong, eat urad dhal (available at Indian grocery stores) cooked with equal parts turmeric, cumin, coriander, and fennel.
- A banana cooked in ghee, cinnamon and cardamom is a tasty and wholesome dessert for people with strong digestion.
Foods to Enhance the Reproductive Tissue (Vrishya)
- Date-milk shake
- Mango milkshake
- Rice pudding
- Spices such as ajwain powder, cumin (which purifies the uterus in women and the genitourinary tract in men), turmeric (to improve the interaction between hormones and targeted tissues), and black cumin.
In general, it's important to eat a wide variety of foods in order to receive all the essential nutrients. Keep trying new vegetables and fruits, and rotate your menus to make sure you're not eating the same thing day after day.
A Two-Part Fertility Program
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends first purifying the genitourinary tract. Once impurities and obstructions are removed from the area, the herbs can be truly effective in reaching the targeted tissues.
Phase I — Cleanse Before Conception
Phase II — Increase Fertility during Conception
The internal cleansing program should be done for three months before trying to conceive. After detoxification, the couple should discontinue the purifying herbal compounds and should start taking Vital Man or Vital Lady on a daily basis. During this time they should try to conceive. The bringhana and vrishya diet is ideal throughout both stages.
Once the couple conceives, the woman should stop taking Vital Lady and should focus on a diet and daily routine especially suited for pregnancy.
Enhancing Bliss and Devotion
Behavioral recommendations that support the shukra tissue and positive relationships include following a daily ayurvedic routine (dinacharya) and reducing day-to-day stress by practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique. To help allay day-to-day mental stress, take Worry Free tablets (2 morning and evening). The Worry Free Tea and Aroma Oil can also help. If you need to dissolve emotional stress, take Blissful Joy tablets (2 morning and evening) and diffuse the Blissful Heart Aroma Oil. For physical stress use Organic Kapha Tea, and follow a Kapha-pacifying diet.
Increasing Fertility Later in Life
Are there special tips for couples who want to conceive after the age of forty? The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends that both the woman and man focus more on the diet and routine — on the vrishya and bringhana diet.
Avoid stress as much as possible. Go to bed on time and don't miss your morning massage. Take care of your protein needs, including some dairy protein in your diet, such as panir, milk and lassi. Engage in a spiritual practice such as the Transcendental Meditation technique.
For women, it is particularly important to take care of yourself during menstruation. Follow the ayurvedic guidelines for that time: avoid traveling; avoid skipping meals; eat foods that are warm, light, and easy to digest; and try to avoid foods or aromas that are highly chemicalized. And take real rest during your menstrual cycle.
If you want to conceive when you are older, you need to be extra careful about your overall health.
If You Don't Want to Conceive
Even if you don't want to conceive, there is a value in enhancing the shukra tissue. Shukra has a dual function, not only producing the sperm and ovum but also ojas, the finest product of digestion. Ojas creates vigor, bliss, lightness, stamina, immunity, luster in the skin, sparkle in the eyes, and clarity of mind.
Ojas is vital to the health and happiness of everyone. Anyone who wants to enhance mental clarity, immunity, and spiritual well-being will find these recommendations useful, because they enhance the shukra tissue and thus enhance ojas. Those people who don't want to conceive, but want to enhance ojas, should still follow the purification phase for at least 45 days, and more if there are more toxins built up. Then they can take the Vital Man and Vital Lady tablets.
With the help of Maharishi Ayurveda, couples such as Nans and Jonathan have a chance to conceive, and every parent has the opportunity to give their child the healthiest possible start in life.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.