Infertility crisis is in your face. In the last five years, it has increased by 20 to 30 percent and has started to affect couples living in tier-2 and tier-3 cities as well. The mushrooming of IVF centers is a testimony to increasing infertility. Medically, infertility is explained as a condition when conception does not occur even after a year of unprotected intercourse. However, if the couple is in the twenties they may wait a little longer before meeting the doctor.  

Infertility is often considered a woman’s problem, whereas it is not. It is equally a man’s problem. A complex interaction of factors such as – lack of exercises, stress, obesity, genetic and environmental reasons accompanied by medical disorders like diabetes has started to affect fertility in both men and women. Let’s understand why infertility has become so common, whereas a few decades ago our grandmothers could bear a child even in their forties!

1.The clock is ticking

So far, it was believed that a woman’s biological clock begins to drop in the mid-30s, but the researchers have found a woman’s biological clock may start ticking years earlier. A woman becomes 10 percent less fertile when she is 27. If the man is over 35, their partner has a higher risk of failing to get pregnant and miscarrying, regardless of her age.

By the time men are 45, the odds of their partner miscarrying doubles. The gradual fall in the quality of the sperm makes conception difficult.

2. Biological reasons

The primary reason for infertility in women is Polycystic Ovary Disease. The other causes are Fallopian tube defects, hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism and sexual dysfunction. In rural India, genital tuberculosis is responsible for rising infertility.  

3. Lifestyle factors

The busy lifestyle could make it difficult for the couple to get some action between the sheets when the woman is ovulating. A man’s sperm can get changed by his overall health and lifestyle. Habits like heavy alcohol use, drugs, environmental toxins including pesticides and smoking cigarettes may lead to sperm disorder.  Radiation from instruments like mobile can also cause male factor infertility. Hence, avoid dangling the mobile from the belt or keeping it in your side pocket. The recent studies have linked the indiscriminate use of painkillers may cause infertility in men.

4. Stress

Stress is integral to our lifestyle these days. Adrenaline – the hormone released by our bodies during stress inhibits the utilization of progesterone – a hormone essential for fertility. It also causes the pituitary gland to release higher levels of prolactin which may suppress ovulation in women and reduce sperm count in men and lower libido in both men and women.

5. Smoking

Smoking may shorten the biological clock of women. Smoking may cause the ovaries to age prematurely and may decrease the egg reserve leading to infertility and an earlier menopause. Unlike men who produce sperm all their life, women are born with a limited number of eggs.

Men who smoke have been shown to have abnormalities in sperm production. Both sperm quality and quantity are affected by cigarette smoking. These abnormalities translate into higher rates of infertility. Smoking can also lead to impotence by causing damage to blood vessels. The mechanism of developing an erection is dependent on healthy veins. Chronic cigarette use affects the health of the veins which hamper erections.

Infertility evaluation

Normally, the steps of a basic infertility evaluation include analysis of thorough medical history including any other medical conditions you might be suffering, such as any history of drug intake or other obstetric or gynecological problems.

Additionally, a thorough physical examination is processed wherein various blood tests on either the female or the male is needed, depending on the individual couple’s situation.

The blood test includes testing for the levels of various sex hormones.

For male factor infertility, taking a sample of semen and doing a semen analysis is the first stage process. While in females, the major concerns are to find out if the woman is ovulating or not (i.e. producing an egg in every menstrual cycle or not).

After the basic tests have been done, the patient would require going for either of the two prominent diagnoses

Hysterosalpingogram uses a real-time form of x-ray called fluoroscopy. It helps to examine the uterus and fallopian tubes of a woman having difficulty becoming pregnant. It’s used to investigate miscarriages resulting from the abnormalities within the uterus and helps determine the presence and severity of tumor masses, adhesions, and uterine fibroids.

Laparoscopy is done to assess the anatomy of the cavity of the uterus and the fallopian tubes. While in laparoscopy, the surgeon looks inside the abdomen through an endoscope to look for any deformities of the tubes or for endometriosis so as to acquire better analysis.

How Ayurveda treats infertility

According to Ayurveda, reproductive health is dependent upon the health of Shukra dhatu.  In women, Shukra dhatu produces ovum and men it is responsible for producing semen. Infertility arises when Shukra dhatu does not receive adequate nutrition, which can happen due to poor digestion.  If you are disturbed mentally, do not sleep well or suffer from insomnia it can affect your fertility. Even controlling your sexual urges for a longer period of time can lead to decreased libido.

Correct hormonal imbalances through Ayurveda 

Ayurveda recognizes Shukra as sheet dhatu, which means it needs a colder environment to prosper. That’s why Ayurveda recommends wearing boxers instead of a brief. Research supports the fact that in order to produce sufficient quality and quantity of sperm, the temperature of testicle must be lower than the body temperature.

For a healthier Shukra dhatu, Ayurveda forbids eating spicy foods and recommends foods like asparagus, broccoli, milk, and dates to improve fertility. Grains such as quinoa is helpful in balancing hormones in women.

Ayurveda accepts the role of stress in creating hormonal imbalances. It recommends Shirodhara therapy for treating the hormonal imbalances in infertility. Shirodhara helps stimulate the hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands and creates proper communication between them to secrete adequate amounts of sex hormones.

Tackle infertility crisis with herbs

Ayurveda has a few aphrodisiacs for men and women which works wonders for their reproductive health. Kapikacchu or Mucuna Pruriens helps in improving the quality and quantity of sperm and treats reduced libido.

For women, Ayurveda suggests Lodhra for improving fertility and increasing the levels of reproductive hormones like FSH (Follicular Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone). If you are suffering from repeated miscarriages, Lodhra is quite helpful.

Herbs like Gokshura or Tribulus Terrestris work for both men and women It helps in treating erectile dysfunction in men and is helpful in regularising ovulation in women suffering from PCOS.

Remember couples, infertility is intimately linked to your lifestyle. Eat healthy, exercise, refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol. Most importantly, keep in mind your biological clock because it is ticking for both of you.