An holistic approach to infertility

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How to deal with infertility?

Today’s structure of the Western healing professions is divided into separate aspects of body, mind and spirit.

Physicians are dedicated to the treatment of the body; psychologists and psychiatrists are concerned with treating the mind, and, a third group, the clergy, is attendant to spiritual healing.

However, such fragmentation and specialisation is a relatively recent phenomenon.

In fact, more unified concepts of health and disease extend further back to the roots of medicine in the late Assyrian civilisation, and in the Greek culture as exemplified in the writings of Hippocrates and Aristotele, who clearly observed the effects of emotions on physical disease. [1]

Psychological effects of Infertility

Emotional effects

Depression, anger, frustration, guilt, denial, anxiety

Loss of control

Loss of control over activities, body, emotions and inability to predict and plan future according to life goals

Effects on self-esteem

Loss of self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, identity problems, changes in worldview

Social effects

Effects on marital interactions, sexual functioning, loneliness, embarrassment

[2]

Yoga: the path to holistic health

Pregnant-woman-cartoonInfertility is a common clinical problem affecting 5% to 30% of couples worldwide, with higher rates in developing ountries. Many factors are linked to this problem but stress is generally recognised to be a very influential factor. [3]

Stress reduction is one of the central ways that yoga can help boost fertility both on male and females. In stressful situation, blood flow in pelvic organs decreases because the body pumps the blood to areas critical for fighting or fleeing, as part of the fight-or-flight response.

Yoga can reverse some of the effects of stress by ratcheting down the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and turning up the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls internal functions, including the reproductive organs.

What do yogis believe?

Yogis believe that it is possible to learn to relax your pelvic organs and let go of muscular tension, and that doing so can increase blood flow.

In addition, yoga teaches that some parts of life are out of our control. This can help women who are struggling with infertility to acknowledge and accept that reality but this doesn’t mean they simple have to give up. What’s appropriate is to do what you can to change the situation, but let go of the idea that you have a control over the outcome.

Thus, letting go can help reduce stress levels which, of course, paradoxically, increase your odds of becoming pregnant.

Yoga also encourages people to observe their attitudes. Many people believe that if they just had something that they lack, in this case a baby, they would then be happy. But yoga teaches that sustained happiness can only be found within yourself. If you don’t need a baby to feel okay, you are probably not only more likely to be able to have one, but also better able to give that child what it will need to thrive. [4]

Holistic tips

  • Conversely, obesity can also reduce fertility, though being moderately overweight does not lead to fertility problems
  • Food and drinking water are potentially sources of pesticide exposure, which can affect male fertility. Organic food and filtered or bottled water may help you reduce the risk
  • Toxic exposure, often work related, that affect male fertility include lead and benzene
  • Due to high temperatures, male with infertility should avoid hot baths, saunas, steam rooms, and even working with a computer on their lap
  • As few as five alcoholic drinks per week has been shown to reduce a woman’s ability to get pregnant and can interfere with men’s fertility as well
  • Caffeine can also be deleterious to women’s fertility
  • Tobacco and second hand smoke can impair fertility in both men and women
  • Women who hope to become pregnant should avoid douching

In the next article we will get deeper into the relationship between yoga, fertility and sexual performance and how the former can improve the latter.

 When you align with nature good things happen.

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References:

[1] Pelletier, K. R. (1979). Holistic medicine: from pathology to prevention. Western Journal of Medicine, 131(6), 481.

[2] Dunkel-Schetter, C., & Stanton, A. L. (1991). Psychological adjustment to infertility (pp 197-222). Springer US.

[3] Hu, M., Zhang, Y., Ma, H., Ng, E. H., & Wu, X. K. (2013, July). Eastern medicine approaches to male infertility. In Seminars in reproductive medicine (Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 301-310). Thieme Medical Publishers.

[4] McCall, T. (2007). Yoga as medicine. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

Andrea Cristofoletto

Andrea Cristofoletto is a certified Yoga Teacher and has been studying the ancient science of yoga in India under the guidance of Sri Yogacharya Lalit Kumar from the Himalayan Tradition.
He has deepened his knowledge on the therapeutic use of asana, pranayama, chanting, meditation and kriya techniques under the wise guidance of Ratheesh Kumar Atmaram.
He has a BSc in Foreign Languages – Business Communication Specialist and graduated with a thesis on the socio-economic importance of the hemp fibre throughout history. Andrea has gained his experience through direct training in hemp fields practising organic agriculture.

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