According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6.1 million women in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, meaning that they suffer from miscarriages (Infertility, 2018). Being infertile means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying, or 6 months if a woman is over 35 years old (Infertility, 2018). In order to get pregnant, a woman must first release an egg from one of her ovaries, then this egg must go through the fallopian tube to the uterus. And in order for the egg to fertilize, a man’s sperm must join with the egg along the way to the uterus (Infertility, 2018). This is why, most of the time when a woman is unable to get pregnant it means there was a problem somewhere along this process. Ovulation is also another problem that can cause infertility in a woman, since without ovulation, there will be no eggs to be fertilized. Irregular or absent menstrual periods are the most common signs that a woman is not ovulating(Infertility, 2018). There are also many other factors that may increase the risk of infertility in women, such as stress, age, smoking, having a poor diet, being overweight or underweight, health problems, STIs, and many more(Infertility, 2018).
However, this is not only a women’s problem, but also a problem that affects men all around the world. According to the Office of Women’s Health, about one-third of infertility cases are caused by women’s problems, another one third are due to the man and the rest are a mixture of both or by unknown problems (Infertility, 2018). Infertility in men is mostly caused by a problem on a man’s testicles, when the veins are too large which heats the testicles and eventually affects the shape or the number of sperm (Infertility, 2018). There are also other factors that increases the risk of infertility on men. Some examples are heavy alcohol or drug use, smoking, age, radiation treatment and many more that relate to the overall health and lifestyle (Infertility, 2018).
There is medication that works to induce egg development and ovulation that come in pills, clomiphene citrate being the most known, and injections, such as gonadotropins which is the most prescribed for this problem (UCLA, n.d.). Clomiphene citrate is taken on certain days of the menstrual cycle and works by binding itself in a part of the brain called hypothalamus essential to the growth and maturity of the eggs in the ovary (UCLA, n.d.). The gonadotropins also work in a similar way since they act directly on the cell to stimulate the development as well as leads to the maturity and the release of the egg (UCLA, n.d.).
Insemination is also another very known medical process that treats infertility by first washing and preparing the sperm to place it into the uterine cavity, bringing a higher concentration of the sperm closer to the tubes and the ovulated egg (UCLA, n.d.). Once the sperm is washed, it is then injected painlessly into the uterine cavity using a very thin catheter and in order for the sperm to fertilize the egg, there must be no sperm abnormalities (UCLA, n.d.).
In Vitro Fertilization is another way to treat infertility since the use of it allowed women that were deemed permanently infertile because of their fallopian tubes being damaged, to finally become mothers. For this process, the eggs are collected and fertilized by the sperm outside of the body and then the embryos are later transferred directly into the uterus (UCLA, n.d.). The embryos are placed back into the uterus using a catheter and then injected through the uterine cavity and then go through the cervical canal. It is a few weeks later when the pregnancy test in then performed to see if the procedure worked (UCLA, n.d.).
For this procedure, a third person is involved and could either be a sperm donor, an egg donor, embryo donor or if it’s a woman, she can be a surrogate to carry the baby during the gestation period (UCLA, n.d.). Embryo donation is also part of this process where the fully developed embryo is donated and transferred to the intended mother’s uterus(UCLA, n.d.).
Using the concepts of mind, body and spirit, Ayurvedic physicians prescribe individualized treatments, including compounds of herbs or proprietary ingredients, and diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations (NCCIH, 2015). Every year, the number of patients that seek CAM treatment options like Ayurveda increases since it offers a variety of treatments for infertility (Kessler, 2015). In a recent study, a 38 year old woman gave birth to a baby boy after being treated with Ayurvedic medicine in a German clinic. She received 18 conventional fertility treatments in 5 different fertility clinics around the world. It was then after several complications, that the patient gave up on conventional medicine and went to an Ayurvedic clinic where she received a complex contemporary treatment. Treatment that also included botanical herbs, dietary and lifestyle advice, manipulative therapy, meditation, and spiritual elements (Kessler, 2015). However, even when this study was successful, the results still remain weak since these interventions require more clinical trials where results could be better analyzed. This is because there were no results in the exposure that the patient had to the large number of reproduction procedures and how those affected her health.
Even when most alternative medicine has become as or even more effective than conventional medicine, there is still a lot of research that has to be done when treating infertility with Ayurvedic medicine. It’s true that Ayurveda could be very effective at treating many health problems, but when it comes to infertility, the better and safer option for now should be to try conventional treatments such as insemination or In Vitro Fertilization, which seemed to be the most successful treatment. This is because, since the main problem seems to be the tubal blockage in the uterus, IVF is the most effective at solving this issue as well as being the most normal process that doesn’t require medication. However, this doesn’t mean that Ayurvedic medicine is a bad option, but this type of medicine is proven to be more effective when you’re treating a problem that is directly connected to your mind and your healing power.
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