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The Ayurvedic Perspective on Infertility

This is a small part of the group research paper I am writing as a part of my Ayurvedic
courses. Would love your feedback just wanted to share! My responsibility was to write about
the Ayurvedic perspective on this disorder. I may also share other sections of the paper if I get
permission from my group members.

Fertility depends on natures rasa; a fruitfulness, sweetness, wetness, happiness. When these
rasas are depleted, sterility, dryness, loneliness, and isolation are bound to set in. The rishis
predicted that the increase of fear in modern culture would result in the decline of the earths
fertility. Maya Tiwari, Womens Power to Heal

Dr. Chauhan of the Jiva Institute says that Ayurveda considers begetting a child equivalent to
planting a tree, for which we need four essential conditions seed, field (soil), time and
nourishment. It is important to remember that infertility, as with any other disorder according
to Ayurveda, is a completely individual case. Infertility is not an independent disease, rather a
cardinal feature of many imbalances. Reproducing is one of the most important responsibilities
we have as living beings. In order to conceive a healthy child one should be swastha or fully
healthy oneself. Ayurveda defines a healthy person as one who is established in the Self, who
has balanced doshas, balanced agni, properly formed dhatus, proper elimination of malas
[wastes], well functioning bodily processes, and whose mind, soul and senses are full of bliss.
(Lad, p 275) This optimum state of health provides the fertile ground for the embryo to implant
and grow. If conception does not occur, there may be an imbalance in any of the above
categories, making the cause of infertility sometimes difficult to determine.

Ayurvedic texts say that failure to achieve conception of a couple of mature age, having normal
coitus, during [the] appropriate period of menstrual cycle regularly for at least one year is termed
as infertility. It develops due to fault in either of the partner or both of them. (Stri Roga, pp
262) If there is a defect in either the egg or sperm, or any part of the male or female reproductive
organs, it is possible that conception will be difficult. There are three types of infertility that are
written about in the classic texts. Vandhya refers to absolute sterility, which cannot be
cured. Apraja is a term used to define the type of infertility that can be cured with treatment;
the woman is able to become pregnant. The third type of infertility is called Sapraja, defining
the woman who becomes afflicted with infertility during her childbearing years after already
conceiving one or more children. It is known as secondary infertility. We most often speak of
infertility in relation to females, though the classics give many examples of treatment for male
problems as well.

There are numerous causes for infertility. As mentioned here by Dr. Douillard: Caraka and the
other Ayurvedic authorities state that the suppression of natural urges, excessive sex and
excessive physical exercise, along with an improper diet, are linked to the cause of female
reproductive disordersBasically, the Ayurvedic recommendation is to act in accord with how
one feels. Ignoring this cycle is often at the root of [female reproductive issues.] (Dr. Douillard,
PMS) His conclusion is that the reason why an excessive amount of female disorders plague
the West and not the East, has much to do with the culture surrounding how women honor their
menstrual cycle. All Ayurvedic infertility treatments emphasize therapies which aim to regulate
a womans natural cycle, because often a menstrual disorder is the main cause of the imbalance.

According to Ayurvedic physiology, it takes food 35 days to be transformed into our


reproductive tissues. When there is a defect in the reproductive organs, this means that shukra or
artava dhatu is affected according to Ayurvedic anatomy. Shukra and artava dhatus are the male
and female reproductive tissues, respectively. If shukra or artava are affected, then ojas will also
be low. This can be detected by advanced Ayurvedic practitioners. Ojas is the essence of all of
the bodily tissues. It is the bodys natural immunity, and it is the sustainer of life. If ojas is low,
perfect health is impossible it is difficult for a person to ward off disease, or attain the higher
states of bliss and consciousness. Improper quality or quantity of artava dhatu can be one of the
reasons a woman is unable to become pregnant. Susruta has enumerated amenorrhea,
oligomenorrhoea and pain in vagina etc. symptoms due to decrease of artava. Cakrapani has
explained that these symptoms are caused by vayu aggravated due to decrease of artava
responsible for proper nourishment of the reproductive system. (Stri Roga, p. 265) To reiterate,
Amenorrhea, oligomenorrhoea, and other disorders of the menstrual cycle are often the culprits
of infertility. These disorders occur when there is an imbalance of the doshas due to numerous
factors like improper diet or lifestyle.

The vata dosha, being made up of the more subtle elements of air and ether, is the most easily
disturbed, and its imbalance is most often the culprit when it comes to infertility. In fact,
infertility is most commonly included as one of the 80 diseases of vata. (Stri Roga, p. 265) The
vata dosha conducts respiration, elimination, motor skills and sensory functions. Vata dosha also
governs the feeling of pain, fear, as well as creativity. There are five sub-types of vata or vayu:
prana, udana, samana, vyana and apana. The downward moving energy of apana vayu governs
the strength and function of the organs of elimination and reproduction. When vata is out of
balance, the symptoms shown are dryness in the reproductive organs, exhibiting as irregular
semen or low sperm count, irregularities of the menstrual cycle, pain in the lower back or
abdomen, constipation, anxiety, etc.

The vata dosha becomes unbalanced when there is excessive exercise, fear, anxiety or stress due
to trauma, excessive fasting as is the case in eating disorders, or a diet lacking the proper amount
of fats and vitamins. Apana vayu can even be disturbed when a person neglects to act upon their
natural urges, which are some of the basic functions of this sub-dosha.

Infertility rarely involves only one dosha. When kapha dosha is predominant, uterine fibroids or
cysts may develop, but often involve pitta and vata displacements also. (Lambert, Uterine
Fibroids) A case of recurrent miscarriage is often diagnosed as a Pitta condition of excessive
movement of the downward moving air (apana). (Frawley, pp 257) Even though this condition
may be seen as high pitta, there is still an underlying vata imbalance. And again, treatment will
differ depending on the patients current condition and health history, though it is important to
treat the underlying doshic imbalance.
Inability to conceive can also be due to too much ama in the system. Ama is a toxin that is
created when undigested food forms in the stomach. Ama can circulate throughout the body,
building up in the bodily tissues. Ama can cause abnormalities in the function of the bodily
tissues. Ama can form due to unbalanced agni, eating disorders, emotional, physical or mental
abuse. Ama can form from an imbalance with any of the three doshas. According to Ayurveda,
anything one takes in through the sense organs must be digested, and sometimes there is an
inability to digest our intake, resulting in the formation of ama. If ama is present, this usually
means that the patients agni, or metabolic fire, is not functioning properly. Simple changes and
herbals additions to diet can improve function of the agni.

Hormonal and emotional imbalances can also be a cause of infertility. Abnormalities of yoni,
psychology, sukra, [artava], diet and mode of life, coitus at improper time and loss of bala
[strength] have been included in the cause of delay in achieving conception in an otherwise
fertile womannormalcy of psychology has been been given highest importance for achieving
conception. (Stri Roga, pp 265) At the time the classic texts were written, understandably
microscopic hormones had not been discovered yet. Some texts hint that the term artava may
correlate with estrogen. A balanced and happy mind is a major part of the Ayurvedic definition
of health. A persons reproductive organs could seem to be functioning properly, but if the
person is unhappy or unsound of mind, the body may reject pregnancy. According to Ayurveda,
body and mind must both be treated with equal importance.

In Ayurveda, karma can also be an important factor in a persons ability to conceive. This idea is
one which may be difficult to accept for some who may not be familiar with this
philosophy. Abnormalities of atma [soul] and sattwa [mind]infertility due to influence of
misdeeds done by the couple in their previous life (Stri Roga, pp 269) are as just a valid
cause for infertility as are curses of God or fate. (Stri Roga, pp 269) Some practitioners
recommend their patient get a Jyotish reading to find out the appropriate time for begetting
children or of their chart are interpreted to say it may not be right for them in this lifetime.