LIFE IS A BLESSING
Dr. RADHIKA SATHEESAN
Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda Foundation
Infertility can feel like a hopeless sentence for people dreaming of having a baby. Understanding the basic concept of what is infertility and how it happens can help us know the problem in a deeper way and try to correct it. We at IFAM are here to correct the causes of infertility in you and improve the fertility. We have divided the causes of infertility as a whole into the male problems and female problems and combined issues as both contribute for a baby.
So let's look upon first the causes of male infertility.
A place where most of them doesn’t give much importance into. Many times male infertility is just overlooked confining to semen analysis alone. But when we introspect it deeply, many underlying causes can be seen. So let's take a look into the issues of male infertility
1. Sexual difficulties - this can be minutely understood as reduced sexual desires, difficulties in ejaculation, reduced volume of ejaculate, difficulties in maintaining the Erection.
2. Testicular problems - any lumps, pain or swelling the testicular region
3. Recurrent respiratory infection.
4. Secondary sexual characteristics- decreased size of penis or testicle, breast formation, reduced hair growth on face and body.
5. Abnormalities in semen analysis - reduced sperm count per ejaculate, reduced motility, reduced normal forms, increased Pus cells etc.
These problems make him impotent to produce good sperms, and these are due to the habits or lifestyle changes that he has undergone.
So the culprit here is the lifestyle. Nowadays due to the emerging changes in the lives of people, mechanization and newer techniques of food habits has taken a greater toll on the lifestyle of people. People over the period has moved into instant preparation or ready to eat preparations. This has lead into usage of preservatives and also when needed to produce larger quantities the. Adulteration too. These preservatives and adulterants itself is the major problem in causing infertility as a whole and also increasing the risks of complications in health.Recently, work is given the top most priority in a persons life than health. Most of the infertility issues are faced by people who practice a sedentary work and over stressed time bound work models. Both the sedentary and stressful life can lead to reduces fertility by causing disruptions in hormones and reduced sexual desires and generalised weakness to body.
So let's take a glance into the lifestyle causes and environmental causes leading to infertility
1. Drug usage - Impact of the drugs are at a higher risk to general health and a major causation of infertility issues. Especially the anabolic steroids taken to increase the muscle strength and growth can effect the testicle to shrink and reduced sperms production. Usage of cocain and Marijuana can cause reduced sperms count and poor quality of sperms.
2. Alcohol and smoking - The most common mannerism, among different ages and by both genders equally. Alcohol can lower testosterone levels and causes erectile dysfunction. Smoking directly decreases the sperm count in men.
3. Weight - Obesity can impair fertility in several ways, including directly impacting sperm themselves as well as by causing hormone changes that reduce male fertility.
Understanding the causes and the problems of male infertility let us now look into the preventive techniques.
How to maintain a good sperm quality
1. Weight training - exercise and curbing fat intake can help us to keep a check on weight.
2. Quit smoking, alcohol and drugs - by practicing to quit these habits can improve the quality of sperms and correct the erectile issues.
3. Reduce stress - By reducing the stress at work and in life can help regularise the hormones and blood flow in the body which are very essential for having a good sperm.
4. Avoid bike riding and wearing tight undergarments - these can reduce the heat in the testicle and help in increased sperm count.
5. Reduced exposure to environmental pollution
So taking things seriously and understanding the causes of infertility can help you not only beget a good child but also help have a good health.
Females are given much more importance in infertility cases, because she is having a greater role in beholding and nurturing a baby from the seed to a human. Let's take a look into the causes of female infertility.
• Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a common factor in majority of ladies. Main issue with the PCOS is that it causes hormone imbalance, which affects ovulation. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, and acne. It's the most common cause of female infertility.
• Hypothalamic dysfunction. Two hormones, the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are very much essential for the process of ovulation to happen. Excess physical or emotional stress, very high or very low body weight, can disrupt production of these hormones and affect ovulation. Irregular or absent periods are the most common signs.
• Primary ovarian insufficiency. Also called premature ovarian failure, this is usually caused by an autoimmune response or by premature loss of eggs from the ovary, possibly as a result of genetics or chemotherapy. The ovary no longer produces eggs, and it lowers estrogen production in women under age 40.
• Hyperprolactinemia - The pituitary gland causes excess production of prolactin (hyperprolactinemia), which reduces estrogen production and can cause infertility. This can also be caused by medications taken for other conditions.
• Problems to fallopian tubes
Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes keep sperm from getting to the egg or block the passage of the fertilized egg into the uterus. Tubal block can be caused by infection inside the tube caused due to pelvic inflammatory disease or any previous pelvic surgeries.
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue gets implanted and grows in other places other than uterine lining. This extra tissue growth — and the surgical removal of it — can cause scarring, which can block fallopian tubes and keep the egg and sperm from uniting.
Endometriosis can also disrupt implantation of the fertilized egg. The condition also seems to affect fertility in less-direct ways, such as damage to the sperm or egg.
Uterine or cervical causes
Several uterine or cervical causes can interfere with the egg implanting or increase the risk of miscarriage:
• Benign polyps or tumors (fibroids or myomas) are common in the uterus. Some can block fallopian tubes or interfere with implantation, affecting fertility. However, many women who have fibroids or polyps do become pregnant.
• Morphological issues - congenital problems with the uterus such as an unusually shaped uterus, can cause problems becoming or remaining pregnant.
• Cervical stenosis, a narrowing of the cervix, can be caused by an inherited malformation or damage to the cervix.
• Sometimes the cervix can't produce the best type of mucus to allow the sperm to travel through the cervix into the uterus.
In some cases, the cause of infertility is never found. A combination of several minor factors in both partners could cause unexplained fertility problems. Although it's frustrating to get no specific answer, this problem can correct itself with time. But shouldn't delay treatment for infertility.
Certain factors can produce greater risks by giving rise to infertility issues
• Age. The quality and quantity of a woman's eggs begin to decline with age. In the mid-30s, the rate of follicle loss speeds, resulting in fewer and poorer quality eggs. This makes conception more difficult, and increases the risk of miscarriage.
• Smoking. Besides damaging the cervix and fallopian tubes, smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. It's also thought to age ovaries and deplete eggs prematurely.
• Weight. Being overweight or significantly underweight may affect ovulation. Getting to a healthy body mass index (BMI) might increase the frequency of ovulation and likelihood of pregnancy.
• Sexual history. Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can damage the fallopian tubes. So having unprotected sex with multiple partners increases the risk of a sexually transmitted infection that may cause fertility problems later.
• Alcohol. Excess alcohol consumption can reduce fertility.
We always know prevention is better than cure, but most of the time we seem to have less understood this phrase. So prevention is the only way to not end up in infertility. So let's see the method of prevention
• Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight and underweight women are at increased risk of ovulation disorders. If you need to lose weight, exercise moderately. Strenuous, intense exercise of more than five hours a week has been associated with decreased ovulation.
• Quit smoking and alcohol - Tobacco has multiple negative effects on fertility, as well as your general health and the health of a fetus. Heavy alcohol usage can cause disruptions in hormones and reduce fertility. So it's better to quit smoking and alcohol if you want a better fertility.
•Reduce stress. Some studies have shown that stress can cause couples to have poorer results with infertility treatment. Try to reduce stress in your life before trying to become pregnant.
Ayurveda - Infertility
As per ayurveda is concerned, the main principle of treatment is starting from the root cause. Ayurveda identifies problems from it's root level and clears it. Infertility in ayurveda is know as Vandhyata. Stree vandhyata can occur due to the 20 yonirogas explained by our acharyas. It deals with the gynecological disorders, seminal disorders and post partum disorders in women. These are caused by Mithyahara ( wrong dietetics), mithyachara ( wrong or irregular regime), pradushta artava ( menstrual irregularities), beeja dosha ( defective genes, ovum and karma). These are understood as the lifestyle changes, dietary changes and environmental changes that cause these diseases. Hence as a first line of treatment correcting the lifestyle, food and regime is very important. Secondly, removing the toxins accumulated in our body because of these factors and lastly, Imporving the quality and quantity of sperms and ovum. Ayurvedic treatments and medicines help in the correction of these and improving the quality of sperm and ovum. Ayurveda also educates about the dinacharya ( daily regimen) and Rithu charya( seasonal regimens) which are very essential to maintain the health.
In the Indian sub-continent, nature has bestowed a vibrant climate that includes the hot and cold seasons that are separated by monsoon, that generally dominate in the mid-year. However, with such a varied spectrum of climate ,and our subcontinent, the transitions from one to another present a challenge for the populace that has to cope with the difference in temperature and humidity conditions. Despite being native to such topography and its climate, the inhabitants here suffer from various disorders related to their health.
Monsoon, in particular, brings in more health issues for the common people because the humidity index peaks after falling off initial showers on hot dry earth! The pathogens find a conducive environment. Ayurvedic experts counsel Panchakarma treatment as part of the Karkidaka Chikitsa that has been specifically developed for monsoon-time ailments.
What is Karkidaka?
In Kerala, as per the Malayalam calendar, Karkidakam is the last month which falls from July - August.
As per Ayurveda, in this season, the human body becomes more prone to diseases due to the imbalance of doshas. So it is important to take preventive measures to strengthen the body and prevent diseases.
The monsoon rains are at their peak in the month of Karkidakam. Sudden climatic change from hot to cold has a profound impact on the body. An imbalance of doshas and less immunity will cause many diseases like fever, digestive problems, vatharogas, and inflammatory diseases.
Why Karkidaka Chikitsa?
Ayurveda, the ancient traditional medicine system from the land of India has been backed by a very authentic knowledge base that was accumulated through the works of sages for centuries.
This body of medical knowledge also touched upon the necessary subject of monsoon-time diseases that affected the people of this region. The Ayurveda acharyas developed ‘Karkidaka Chikitsa“which was a dedicated field towards offering the resurrections against the imbalances caused in three primary doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the monsoon period. They found a generic reason for the disturbance in these three doshas!
The components of Karkidaka Chikitsa
The Karkidaka Chikitsa has been developed with the fundamental objective of detoxification of the body. Therefore we find the dominance of the concept of Panchakarma treatment in this Chikitsa! Another subsidiary dimension of relevance and significance is that of immunity strengthening so that external pathogens find a strong buffer while affecting the body.
One of the reasons why Karkidakam is considered the best month for treatment is that during the highly humid monsoon season, the pores of the body open to their fullest and can easily absorb all the oil, and poultices applied to them.
Karkidaka Chikitsa is particularly effective in the prevention of diseases and increasing energy levels and extending the longevity of life. Karkidaka Chikitsa helps in healing both physical and mental disorders. Moreover, it also prevents many other ailments such as arthritis, Spondylitis, back pain, insomnia, muscular pain, stress, and depression.
Ayurvedic treatments can be classified into two broad categories:
Preventive treatment – taking preventive measures to prevent diseases.
Curative treatment – intensive measures taken to cure an existing disease.
Any type of curative treatment first begins with the internal purification of the body (also known as Panchakarma). Panchakarma uses herbal medicines to remove toxins from the body, improve the body’s metabolic process and restore any imbalances.
There are 5 ways in which Panchakarma treatment may be administered. Any one of these therapies or a combination of two or three of them is generally used for this treatment process.
Vamana uses emetics (a substance that causes vomiting), to eliminate toxins present in the respiratory tract. It cures diseases such as asthma, allergies, nasal congestion, obesity, skin disorders, etc.
Virecana therapy uses laxatives to remove toxins from the GIT. It helps cure diseases such as diabetes, constipation, psoriasis and gynecological problems.
Vasti uses medicated enemas in the form of medicated oils and herbal concoctions to eliminate toxins from the GIT. It helps cure conditions such as cervical spondylosis, constipation, digestive problems, backache, obesity and infertility.
Nasya uses nasal administration of medicated oil to remove toxins from the head and neck region. It helps improve memory, gain better eyesight, and cures conditions such as insomnia, headaches, migraine, nasal allergies and sinusitis.
5. Rakta Mokshana (Blood letting)
Rakta Mokshana refers to the blood-letting therapy through which blood is purified.
Following the cleansing treatment, the actual curative treatment is commenced. A good Ayurvedic doctor will be able to prescribe the right curative treatment based on your body’s unique requirements. Some of the more commonly followed treatments are listed below:
The person is asked to lie on a wooden table, and 2 – 4 highly trained therapists apply lukewarm herbal oils all over the body in a rhythmic manner. One session lasts 60 to 90 minutes and the recommended period of therapy is 7 to 14 days. This treatment is used to cure rheumatic diseases such as arthritis, paralysis, sexual weakness, nervous weakness and nervous disorders.
This treatment follows the process of sudation – making the body sweat. Medicinal puddings are externally applied to the whole body, or specific parts of the body for about 60 to 90 minutes, and the entire treatment lasts 14 days. It treats rheumatism, emaciation, joint pains, high blood pressure and skin diseases.
3. Sirodhara ( Thailadhara / Thakradhara)
In this treatment, herbal oils, medicated butter milk and milk are continuously poured onto the forehead for about 40 minutes. The recommended treatment period ranges from 7 to 14 days and helps treat insomnia, short-term memory loss, skin diseases, headaches and mental illness, neurodegenerative diseases and stroke.
In this treatment, a cap is fitted to the person’s head and lukewarm oils are poured into it. The oil has to remain there for a period of 15 to 60 minutes depending on the condition of the patient. The entire treatment has to be done for about 7 days and is an effective treatment for paralysis, dryness of the nostrils, throat, mouth and head diseases.
This treatment (also known as powder massage) involves two therapists applying a specially concocted herbal powder on the body for about 30 – 40 minutes. The duration of the treatment ranges from 7 to 14 days and helps to treat complications such as obesity, and impaired circulation.
Concept of ‘Karkidaka Kanji’
An important dietary suggestion to be followed through this month is the ‘Karkidaka Kanji’, a medicated rice porridge. When rains are heavy, this medicated porridge will enable the individual to remain healthy.
Karkidaka Kanji, the Oushadha Kanji, is a unique medicinal porridge traditionally popular in the South Indian state of Kerala during the rainy season. During this time, with the incessant rains beating down the roof, this month is spent in the rejuvenation of the mind and body. The unique combination of herbs, spices and rice in this dish would keep the body in stability. This is a special diet in Ayurveda that is good for people of all age groups as it would help to improve the immunity of the body, and acts as a detoxifying agent. Karkidaka Kanji.
Goals of Karkidaka Chikitsa
Alleviate current diseases.
Treatment is done as per individual constitution Panchakarma is recommended during this season. Along with the treatment, a special gruel, Karkidaka Kanji is a cervical part of the diet in this season. Navara rice is one of the main ingredients which will be helpful to enhance muscle tone, and the drug Dasamoola alleviates Vatha and Kapha.
The specialty of Karkidaka Kanji is that this item is prepared out of ayurvedic drugs which is having the property of increasing the digestive power easily digestible.
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