Ayurveda and Fertility: Everything You Need To Know (and Learn)
Many people view fertility as black or white. You are or you aren’t ‘fertile’. When in reality, most people who are in their reproductive years lie somewhere on the fertile spectrum. They may become more or less fertile based on other things that are going on in their lives like stress and their overall health.
This information can help empower people who are planning or trying to get pregnant. Knowing there are steps you can take outside of fertility tests, sperm quality tests and going to a fertility specialist puts some of the power back into your hands.
One way you can boost your mental and physical health, and thus your fertility is through traditional systems of medicine – like Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a system of holistic medicine from India that dates back to more than 5,000 years ago. It’s considered ‘holistic’ because it addresses the body, mind, and spirit as a whole, integrated system.
This system is based on the idea that humans are composed of three different constitutions – Vata, Kapha, and Pitta. While most people will have more than one of these profiles, typically someone is predominantly one more than the others.
What do these different types of constitutions actually mean?
- Vata: Dominated by the element air, people who are primarily Vata tend to be thinner, tall, and have dryer skin. They may be full of ideas but have difficulty taking action and getting things done. They also tend to be more prone to anxiety.
- Kapha: Dominated by earth and water, Kapha people tend to be thicker, with a slightly muscular build, they may also have slower digestion or metabolism. These people tend to be grounded and calm but may lack motivation at times and be prone to stubbornness.
- Pitta: Dominated by fire, Pitta people tend to have a medium, muscular build, oily skin, and strong digestion. These people are great at taking action and getting things done but can be ‘fiery’ and hot-headed with a temper.
Ayurvedic practitioners will prescribe certain tools like herbalism, massage, enemas, diet, Yoga, meditation, and breathwork to help people balance their constitutions and energy levels. Ayurveda is largely based on the seasons, an underlying philosophy is to change your diet and other tools according to the season and the weather.
Ayurvedic Approach to Fertility
When it comes to fertility and pregnancy, the first piece of advice that women will get is to check her hormones, her estrogen levels, luteinizing hormone lh, ovarian reserve; many will ask her does she has regular cycles, vaginal discharge; what is her age, does she has health problems, symptoms of early menopause… but Ayurveda will ask for something completely different.
Ayurveda is helpful for fertility since the main goal is to bring people into a state of balance, which ultimately can boost fertility. As with any system of medicine, Ayurveda has its own unique tools to help increase fertility and support pregnancy.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
Diet and Digestion
The ideal diet for fertility according to Ayurveda is ‘Sattvic’, or abundant in the life force. This is made up mostly of seasonal and locally available fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. They recommend sprouting legumes when possible to optimize digestion and bioavailable nutrients.
A sattvic diet is low on animal products but can include dairy from grass-fed cows. Practitioners recommend avoiding alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and refined sugars.
Ayurveda doesn’t just focus on what you’re eating, but how you’re digesting it, or your digestive fire, called ‘Agni’. This helps to nourish the ovum and aid infertility. You can boost your digestive fire through digestive spices like cumin and drinking warm beverages like ginger tea.
Detoxing from chemicals and metabolic waste is another important component of Ayurveda. They believe this helps regulate menstruation, making it easier to know when you’re ovulating.
Here are some common cleansing techniques in Ayurveda:
- Neti Pot: Using warm saline solution to clear the nasal passageways.
- Enemas: This uses a special device to filter water or herbal concoctions into the large intestine, and is then expelled…on the toilet.
- Breath and Movement: Linking breathing with movement, like yoga poses is an accessible detox tool. Physical activity is an important part of preparing your body for pregnancy.
Lowering stress levels and learning how to better manage mental health issues are important for digestion and balancing hormones. According to Ayurveda, unmanaged stress creates tension in the body (eggs and uterus as well) and mind, which can ruin good health, and impact fertility.
Stress is managed through many of the tools above, as well as special Ayurvedic massage techniques, yoga, meditation, breathwork, and herbs like Ashwagandha and Shatavari – which may also increase pregnancy success rates.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, it can be irritating to hear about possible diagnosis and things like ‘Just eat more vegetables’ or ‘Do some yoga!’ While these Ayurvedic tips may not be the answer for treating fertility issues, they can help you get to a more balanced state mentally and physically, which ultimately aids fertility. It’s not all or nothing, you can use many of these tips alongside conventional forms of medicine and fertility treatments like IUI and IVF.
If you’d like to explore Ayurveda for fertility you can seek out a practitioner in your area, or someone who offers virtual support. You may also want to look for a place that offers ayurvedic massage – you won’t regret it!
Trying to get pregnant can be more interesting than tracking fertile days and ovulation. It can sometimes take the fun out of sex. Another way to integrate Ayurveda into your fertility is to try out these Yogic sex secrets!
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.