What is Infertility?
Infertility is the inability to become pregnant in spite of having unprotected sex for more than a year. While generally (more than 80% of the cases) this can be attributed to male or/and female infertility, there are some cases where the reasons are still not known.
A reproduction process requires the male and female reproductive tracts to work together. Female releases egg from the ovaries, during the ovulation period, which then goes to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. During the sexual intercourse, the male sperm meets the female egg in the fallopian tube where the fertilization process happens. This results in a zygote cell or fertilized egg which gets implanted in the uterus of the female. Infertility can happen because of issues in any of the steps or patterns mentioned above and can be due to both male and/or female infertility.
What causes infertility?
The main causes of male infertility are
• Abnormal sperm production which can be due to genetic defects, infections like HIV, conditions like Azoospermia where there is complete absence of sperm in the semen.
• Sperm delivery issues like premature ejaculation, blockage in the testicle, cystic fibrosis etc.
• Smoking, alcohol consumption, antibiotic and steroid consumptions are also known to affect sperm quality and delivery
• Cancer treatments- Chemotherapy and radiation therapies impact sperm production
Female infertility causes are
• Hormonal disorders which impact ovulation like Hyperprolactinemia, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism,PCOD
• Fallopian tube blockages or damages, pelvic inflammatory diseases
• Endometriosis where the endometrial tissue (lining in the uterus) grows outside of the uterus
• Cancer treatments - Chemotherapy and radiation therapies are known to affect ovulation
• Early menopause – where it occurs before 40 years of age
The main risk factors for infertility are
1. Age: Men over 40 and women over 35 have higher chances of infertility
2. Smoking, Alcohol consumption
3. Overweight or Underweight
4. Little exercise or too much exercise
Infertility Diagnosis and Tests:
In addition to general physical tests and examinations, doctors would prescribe specific tests for both male and female.
Male Fertility test include semen analysis, blood tests to detect testosterone and other hormone levels and genetic testing in some cases to detect genetic issues. Female would typically be requested to undergo hormone tests to check ovulation and Hysterosalpingography test which will look for problems or blocks in uterus and fallopian tubes. The exact nature of female infertility tests would be discussed and determined after a detailed personal examination of the couples by the doctor.
First line of treatment would include changes in lifestyle such as avoiding stress, smoking, alcohol and following regular exercise routines. Some medications may be prescribed to improve sperm count in men and to correct ovulation disorders in women. In some cases, surgery may be required to correct sperm blockage in men or to correct problems like endometrial polyps in women.
Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART): When the conventional treatment methods don’t yield results, ART techniques are used. Most common amongst them are IVF (In-vitro fertilization) and IUI (intrauterine insemination). In IVF, the sperm and the egg are collected separately and brought together in a lab for fertilization after which the fertilized egg is placed in the women’s uterus. In IUI (intrauterine insemination) process, the sperm is directly placed in the women’s uterus during ovulation period.
Ayurvedic treatment for Infertility
There are highly effective treatments for infertility in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medical system. As per Ayurveda, there are 3 doshas and 7 dhatus in all human beings. The three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha controls the movement of air within the body, provides nourishment to the tissues and controls metabolism. 7 dhatus namely rasa(plasma), rakta(blood),mamsa(muscle), medas(fat),asthi(bone),majja(marrow) and shukra(reproductive tissue).
When all the 3 doshas and 7 dhatus are in equilibrium, the person is considered healthy and any imbalances will manifest as diseases. Ayurveda principles state that the dhatus are a result of the metabolism process (digestion of the food that is consumed). It is a long chain of transformation where the food gets converted to rasa or plasma first which gets refined to form rakta and so on till the final refinement into shukra or reproductive tissue. It is this shukra that produces semen in men and ovum in women and thus paves the way for fertility.
As explained above, fertility or shukra is a culmination of metabolic transformations within the body and so the entire metabolism and all dhatus or tissues need to be healthy for a healthy shukra datu or a reproductive tissue. Thus, Ayurvedic infertility treatment deals with complete rejuvenation treatment for all dhatus and tissues plus specific treatments and medicines for male and/or female infertility causes like azoospermia, ejaculation, ovulation disorders etc.
The main treatment modalities include Massage, Oleation, Purgation, Sitz bath, Oil and decoction enemas. Individualized treatment plans will be prescribed for both male and female based on the personal evaluation by the Ayurvedic doctor. Treatment duration will typically be around a month. Infertility Ayurveda treatment cost will generally be around 1,900 to 4,100 USD.
Since the rejuvenation program invigorate all tissues and relaxes the body and mind, an Ayurvedic treatment for infertility taken before an Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) like IVF is known to produce excellent results.