Procreation is one of life’s greatest gifts. Ayurveda offers a complete mind body and emotional approach to fertility for both men and women so that the highest chances are given for healthy conception. Healthy fertility starts long before the obvious steps of conception.
Difficulty to conceive is becoming a growing concern, leaving many couples feeling anxious and distressed. It is possible that this is largely contributed by the health epidemic of the 21st century – STRESS. Evidence-based research shows links between stress, trauma and anxiety and the affects fertility rates. So ‘stress management’ should not be overlooked in the treatment process. By medical definition, infertility is the inability to conceive after a year of regular sexual union without the use of contraceptives or the inability to retain the fetus for the full term of pregnancy.
Factors contributing to infertility
Imbalance of the doshas (vata, pitta, kapha)
Poor nutrition of reproductive tissues (due to sluggish digestion, increase in toxins or under nourishment)
Overindulgence in sexual activity can lead deplete the quality of reproductive tissue and impotency
Suppression of sexual urges for long periods can lead to obstruction and decrease libido in the long term
Eating excessive spicy, salty and hot foods that increase pitta dosha
Physical, mental and emotional stress
Nervous system imbalances
The journey of a new life
According to Ayurveda, conception takes place when there is a meeting of healthy sperm and ovum in a healthy uterus. The sperm and egg are the seeds of creation called the ‘bija’ or also know as the reproductive tissues - the ‘shukra dhatu’. This is the last of seven body tissues to be nourished after plasma, blood, muscle, bone and bone marrow and fat. Healthy tissue formation is dependent on the ability to properly digest food, thoughts and emotions, be free of toxins and have balanced doshas (the three bio-energetic forces that govern the functionality of your body). The end result of tissue nourishment is known as ojas or the essence of vitality and immunity. It is no surprise then that the healthier the ojas the better the quality of sperm and egg.
Optimising digestive health is the root of producing healthy bija for both men and women. Healthy fertility can be broken into a 3 stage process over an approximate 6-8 month period in Ayurveda. The first phase comprises of cleansing processes of the mind and body followed by a period of rejuvenation to strengthen the body tissues and then the conception phase. You are strongly advised to consult an Ayurvedic physician for personalised guidance but this article will certainly support you.
Phase 1: Cleansing
Cleansing the body is one of the key focal points for Ayurvedic healthcare. This is tailored specifically to you, taking into consideration - the environment, sex, age and temperament, family history of both partners. The spring and autumn months especially support the process of cleansing.
Cleansing starts with creating a strong digestion to prevent toxins known as ‘ama’ from building and ensure that optimum nutrition is absorbed from the foods. At the same time bringing the doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) back into a natural balance encourages healthy fertility. This process helps the body eliminate toxins and impurities that create blockages in the body channels and tissues.
A consultation and Panchakarma (five Ayurvedic purification methods) would be recommended for deeper cleansing. However, once you know you prakruti (dosha type) you can help prepare yourself by getting the mind, body and emotions into a new rhythm. This period of gentle cleansing over a 12-14 week period would include:
- Eating consciously and according to your hunger
- Well cooked and easy to digest foods
- Plenty of fresh seasonal vegetables, whole grains and legumes
- Cut back on all processed and fried foods
- Limit gluten, dairy, meats, sugars, alcohol and caffeine
- Invigorate the body with warm oil abhyanga (body massage)
- Engage in gentle exercise and yoga
- Engage in pranayama and meditation
- Refrain from sexual activity to conserve energy
- For females add a decoction made of ashoka to your bath to release physical and mental pain
- Digestive compounds such as triphala, hinguwastak, trikatu and avipattikar are useful
- Around weeks 5-10, you can consult a practitioner for Panchakarma, include fasting days and a mono diet of kitchari
- After the deeper cleanse you can resume back to the gentle cleanse
Cleansing does not just mean the physical body but also letting go of the things that don’t serve and support you since this can have an impact on conception:
- Release negative emotions – anger, resentment, past hurt, grief and any emotional burden. Lighten up your heart!
- Discuss and cleanse any dysfunctional patterns that don’t serve your relationship with your partner and share your gratitude for each other. This will encourage emotional closeness
- Free your mind of worries and stress. Let go of doubts, expectations and pressures of your self. Affirmations are a great way to assist this process
Phase 2: Rejuvenation
Once the body has been properly cleansed of the toxins, rejuvenation known as ‘Rasayana therapy’ is intended to build ojas by nourishing the body, bringing doshas into a healthy balance, strengthening the body tissues and restoring normal bodily functions, particularly ovulation.
Both partners would benefit from following a restorative whole foods diet (sattvic) and lifestyle suited to their constitution, so you would do well to choose:
- Seasonal fruits (pears, peaches, mango, plums, raisins, figs, dates, grapes, coconut, pomegranate)
- Grains such as basmati rice, quinoa and lentils such as mung
- Dairy proteins including milk, buttermilk, paneer, ghee
- Nuts & seeds including almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
- Spices including cardamom, nutmeg, saffron, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fennel, ajwain
- Vegetables (asparagus, sweet potato, broccoli, squash, carrot, beetroot)
- Nurture your relationship with your partner with open communication, sharing more love and joy
- Engage in nourishing self care and self love practices such as massage with ashwagandha oil
- Nourish yourself by spending time in nature, especially near water
- Continue to engage in strengthening yoga postures
For women it is important to take mental and physical rest during the menstrual cycle and otherwise keep lean and active. Spices such as turmeric and ajwain are good for keeping the uterine organs cleansed. Ghee is an extremely supportive ingredient. Reduce intake of processed carbohydrates and fats and increase natural proteins and opt for small amounts of barley with milk.
For the male partner a sattvic diet complemented with an increased quantity of milk, ghee, rice and nuts.
Phase 3: Conception
Several months on and your body should feel cleansed and strong for conception now. Here are a few more tips to get you through the final phase:
- Continue to have a nourishing diet to build ojas and prevent ama
- Timing – many apps are now available to guide you to optimal days around your ovulation. Intercourse 3-4 days either side of ovulation increases your chance of conception
- Create a peaceful environment with candles, incense with essential oils that pleases your senses and calms the mind
- Ensure you are in a happy mood, the best position for conceiving is with the woman lying on her back
- After intercourse drink a cup of warm milk with spices such as saffron, cardamom and ground almond
- Conserve your sexual energy during the non fertile period
- Avoid intercourse whilst in negative emotional state, if suffering from compromised immunity, menstruation or if you have overeaten.
Herbs for fertility support
Fertility supporting herbs and tonics such as shatavari (asparagus racemosus), ashwagandha (withania somnifera), ashoka (saraca asoca), kappikachu (Mucuna pruriens), aloe vera and triphala amongst other herbs are highly rejuvenating, promoting balance of hormones and encourages production of reproductive fluids – consult your practitioner for safe use. There are also supportive herbal jams that are packed with nutrients and herbs, these include, chyawanprash and brahmi avaleha, phala grtam.
Yoga and Meditation for healthy fertility
In today’s society, stress plays a key role in the reduced rates of fertility. For both partners, it is imperative to take initiatives to relax the body and mind through balancing breathing techniques such as nadi shodhana and ujjaya pranayama and various meditations. Yoga postures such as padmasana (lotus pose) can increase the blood flow to the perineum and activate the lower charkas, muladhara (root) and Svadisthana (sacral) that govern the sexual functions. Pelvic floor exercises can also enhance circulation to the reproductive organs.
Over and above all, enjoy the process and be patient. It should not add any stress or discomfort. Be connected to your intuition and allow yourself to be guided by that.
Inspired by her Indian roots, British-born Practitioner Geeta Vara brings the timeless wisdom of Ayurveda to her clinic, coaching, workshops, wellness retreats and in her book 'Ayurveda - Ancient Wisdom for Modern Wellbeing' published in June 2018.
Geeta helps her client’s to resolve a host of complaints and health conditions through herbs, diet, nutrition, lifestyle coaching, therapeutic treatments, yoga, breathing and meditation and more. In her clinic, Geeta focuses on restoring gut health and managing stress at the root-level as she believes they are often responsible for many lifestyle-related health conditions.
As a spirited traveller and a passionate cook, her mission is to promote conscious living and empower her clients to be the healthiest version of themselves. Her vision is to make Ayurveda accessible and understandable without compromising authenticity.