Infertility defined by World Health Organization is 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.”
A number of factors that have been included under infertility risk are genetics, environmental exposures and infectious diseases. While infertility can affect both men and women, this particular topic focuses on women. Available data indicate that around 50 million people affect infertility. The research says that secondary infertility, which refers to women who have had at least one pregnancy and live birth previously, is more common than primary fertility and refers to women without a biological child.
According to a survey done in 2010, approximately 10.5% of women around the world experienced secondary infertility, and roughly 2% experienced primary infertility. The prevalence of secondary infertility, in particular, varies by region and country, ranging from less than 6% to greater than 16% of women.
In Ayurvedic classics, Acharya Charaka mentions that the abnormality of any one of the shadbhavas leads to failure of pregnancy. Due to non-acceptance of Bija or garbha by vitiated yoni in various Yoni Vyapads, and destruction of bija in Aartavadushti, the conception does not takes place, similarly due to destruction of Aartava as a complication of yoniarsa there is also conception will not occur or in other words the yoni vyapads, diseases of aartava and yoni arsa can be included in the aetiology of infertility.
There are many factors that affect infertility; however, there is definite evidence that replaceable factors, like unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol, smoking and gaining weight, negatively affect reproductive health etc. Acharya Charaka and Acharya Bhela in Ayurvedic classic text books mentions about the important role of diet in case of infertility, or the gynaecological disorders.
Motherhood is the greatest ambition of a woman and is a divine power bestowed on her by the Almighty. It begins from coitus during ritu kala followed by fertilization and goes on through pregnancy and childbirth. A girl becomes a woman in the full sense only when she becomes a mother, and motherhood is the most challenging as well as the utmost satisfying vocation in this world.
The important factors that constituents garbha are fertile period, healthy reproductive organs, sperms and ovum, proper nutrient fluid, clarity of hridaya, properly functioning of vayu, and the shadbhavas, abnormality in any one of these cause infertility.
Most of the health problems are developing due to the wrong diet patterns. Ayurvĕda deals with the pathya and apathya in a very scientific and holistic way. The fact that certain dietary ingredients are deemed responsible for male and female infertility makes it crucial to study the effects of nutrition on infertility and reproductive health.
Especially Tran’s fatty acids have adverse effects on male and female reproductive health, cause abnormalities in certain metabolic pathways and damage the metabolism of essential components of the reproductive system. When other nutritional factors that may be responsible for infertility are evaluated; saturated fat, red meat, processed meats, fatty dairy products, sugar and sweeteners, alcohol and caffeine come to the forefront.
In addition, the high consumption of soy and soy products may increase the risk of infertility. On the other hand, protective foods against infertility such as fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables and whole-grains reduce the risk of female infertility by various mechanisms of action. While a high western style diet with high saturated fat, Tran’s fat and sugar is associated with a high risk of infertility, whereas prudent diet that contains much more vegetables, fruits, grains and fish is associated with a low risk of infertility.
But we have to confirm that these particular food products are devoid of any toxins, a study done in Hong Kong reveals that toxins like mercury in sea foods especially fish leads to infertility. As we know the majority of pollutants going into the ocean come from activities on land. The diets mentioned in our Samhita are very rational and following certain principles. The diet should also be planned according to the age, season, habitat and the preference of the person. The proper incorporation of diet can prevent many disorders and has major role in the management of the Diseases.
Ayurveda considers diet as one of the three important factors while dealing with the health and disease i.e. oushadha , ahara and vihara , and diet (ahara) plays main role among the three major pillars, also the diet is always can be consider as medicines.
Hippocrates says that, Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food. The Chinese physicians had been treated infertility with diet for years before; Western science is just starting to follows the significant role that diet plays in the ovulatory causes of infertility. A study published in 2008, based on Harvard Nurses Study which followed over 18,000 women in a long-term research project looking at the effects of diet and other factors on the development of chronic disease like infertility.
During this study, each woman was trying to have a baby. Through the eight years of follow-up, the study found that most women got pregnant, still one in six women got some problems getting pregnant. The results were good – who found a great increase in fertility in people who followed certain diet and maintained some mode of lifestyle.
Especially, the study found that women who had the lowest risk of ovulation problem related infertility ate a plant origin, low GI, whole foods diet focusing more on vegetable protein and monounsaturated fats. Women with the highest fertility did exercise more, took a multivitamin mineral supplement and ate at least one time of high fat dairy eatables.
Diet in Ayurvedic Perspective
Reproductive health of every person depends upon the health of the Shukra dhatu or reproductive tissue. The shukra dhatu itself is created as part of the long chain of metabolic transformations starting with the digestion of food and including the transformation of food to nutrient fluid, blood, muscle, fat, bones bone marrow and finally to shukra, so the healthy shukra dhatu will always depends upon the health of the other tissues in the body, so the diet plays an important role in reproductive health.
Ama is also one of the reasons for the inability to conceive; ama will circulate all over the body and can cause abnormalities in the functioning of the bodily tissues due to the imbalanced Agni. Due to the dosha imbalance also ama will occur. The impairment in the nutrition of Aartava Dhatu will occur due to the lack of proper absorption and assimilation.
Diet plays a vital role in the maintenance of good health and in the prevention and cure of diseases. The ancient Vedas considers food as God,”Annam Brahmam” because it nourishes and sustains our life. Ayurveda also says that food affects the mind, causes balancing and unbalancing the qualities of the mind.
The diet should always be pleasing the Ojas, then only can be regulates the ovulation and enhances the fertilisation, now a day’s many of the females are following the virudha ahara s which inturn diminishes the Ojas and causes infertility, ahara like alcohols, trans fat, processed foods, junk foods, cigarette, processed carbohydrates, antibiotics and hormone injected meat and milk, excess starch etc. depletes the Ojas and causes the chronic diseases like infertility.
Foods such as Ghrita, Ksheera, Tila, Madhu , plant origin proteins, Madhura rasa phala , garlic and Aoushada like Shatavari, aswagandha can be included . Urad dhal can cooked with turmeric, cumin, coriander and fennel and banana can be cooked with ghee, along with cinnamon and cardamom will nourishes and enhance all dhatu in females Shukra Dhatu .
Black sesame seeds and jaggery are both rich in Iron and sesame are rich in vitamin E and the phyto-chemicals regulates hormones which causes disorders in the female body. Avoid trans-fats as they stick in arteries, cause infertility and harm the heart and blood vessels. Drink more water, as Jala is the good nourisher to the body and mind and it is as like amrit, so instead drinking caffeine content bottled artificial flavoured drinks, drink warm water boiled with Useera, khadira etc.
Food can prepare with colocasia and garlic can improve progesterone. The Shatavari (Asparagus Racemousus), Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), Amlaki (Emblica Officinalis) help to create the synergistic hormonal balance between the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and the Luteinizing Hormone (LH). For maintenance of normal health the balanced diet is essential.
Dietetic abnormalities influence nourishment of the body or cause loss of Dhatus which influences normal secretion of hormones resulting into failure to achieve pregnancy Satmyaja and Rasaja bhavas included under Shadbhavas and ambu or nutrients , one of the 4 factors of conception come under this heading. Abnormal diet is the important cause of vitiation of Doshas, which if vitiated influence fertilisation by producing gynaecological disorders, diseases of Vata, chronic illness, Udavarta etc.
The fertilised egg is nourished by the exudates of epithelial lining of fallopian tubes and endometrium, these exudates are derived from the rasa dhatu formed from maternal diet: for implantation of zygote, the endometrium is prepared by the hormones, which are also formed with the help of maternal diet, if fertilised egg is not nourished properly, then either fails to develop or after getting implanted in endometrium may get discharged with menstrual blood and the woman will never know that she ever conceived and consider herself as infertile.
So the dietetic abnormalities cause infertility mainly in three ways, 1. Due to loss of Dhatu 2. Due to the vitiation of Doshas that cause various gynecological diseases, thus infertility, 3. By hampering the nourishment of fertilized egg or implantation of the zygote.