What is Infertility?
Infertility affects about 10% of women worldwide. Infertility can occur in both sexes. Infertility is defined as failure to become pregnant after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. Primary infertility is when a couple has never had a child. Secondary infertility is the failure to conceive following a previous pregnancy. This is a very stressful and depressing period for the couples.
There has been a steady rise in the number of couples seeking treatment for fertility problems. Advanced technological methods such as IVF [In vitro fertilization] and ART [Assisted Reproductive Technology] are very expensive. Also, they do not guarantee 100% results. Women undergoing infertility treatment have higher levels of stress and depression. This hampers body's dynamics which further reduces the chances of pregnancy. Fertility yoga is being widely accepted as a natural alternative.
What is Fertility Yoga?
Fertility Yoga, is a combination of yoga poses [Asanas] and de-stressing techniques [Pranayamas and meditation] that are used to correct and balance the body and mind. Yoga fertility asanas and meditation are natural ways to aid conception. Also, fertility yoga optimizes the psychological mindset of the person by reducing the stress levels, which play a key role in case of infertility. A new concept of fertility yoga is couples yoga. In this form of yoga, the various positions are performed with the help of a partner.
What Factors Increase a Woman's Risk of Infertility?
- Women aged more than 35 years have 33% more chances of suffering from infertility.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome - It is the most common cause of infertility in women.
- Blockage in the Fallopian tube
- Fibroids in the uterus
- Excessive stress
- Habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol and use of drugs
- Extreme weight fluctuations and athletic training
- In men - Low sperm count, varicocele and testicular malformations
How Does Yoga Help in Treating Infertility?
- Specific yoga postures increase blood supply to reproductive organs like ovaries, uterus, and testes. As more nutrients are supplied, the vitality of these organs is maximized
- Yoga fertility poses improve hormone levels
- Yoga stimulates ovulation and increases sperm count
- It helps overweight women or those having flabby muscles to tone the muscles and increase flexibility
- Yoga exercises have been shown to slow down the aging process of eggs and sperm
- Yoga practitioners also improve their diet and lifestyle which significantly increase the chances of conception
- Regularizes menstrual cycle
- Yoga improves sleep patterns
- Significantly improves pregnancy rates in women undergoing rigors of infertility treatments
- The practice of meditation and relaxation helps to reduce stress levels
- Regular yoga practice can help increase sexual performance
- Couples yoga helps increase emotional connection and intimacy
- Post-coital pose like Viparitkarni helps the sperm to penetrate the uterus.
- It is advised for both the partners to have a comprehensive physical examination before starting fertility yoga exercises to rule out any conditions that could block conception
- All pranayamas to be repeated 3-4 times or till one is comfortable
- All asanas to be performed first under guidance. Do not strain to achieve perfect yoga poses. These come with experience.
Fertility-Boosting Yoga Poses
These are a combination of breathing exercises [Pranayamas], physical postures [Asanas] and meditation.
These are de-stressing techniques to calm the mind. They are also used as a form of meditation.
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate nostril breathing)
This pranayama is thought to harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain resulting in balanced physical, mental and emotional well-being.
- Sit comfortably with the spine erect
- Place left hand on the left knee
- Place the right ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril
- Use the ring finger and little finger to open or close the left nostril and thumb for the right nostril
- Press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril
- Keep eyes closed throughout and take long, deep, smooth breaths
- Now breathe in from the left nostril and breathe out from the right nostril
- Now breathe in from the right nostril and exhale from the left.
- Breathe in from the same nostril from which exhaled
- This completes one round of pranayama
- Complete 9 such rounds or till you are comfortable
- Lastly relax both arms, sit and breathe naturally before opening eyes.
Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)
It works on calming the nerves especially around the brain and forehead. The humming sound vibrations during exhalation have a natural calming effect and give instant relief from tension, anger and anxiety.
- Sit up straight in a quiet and well ventilated place. Keep the eyes closed
- Place your index fingers on the ear cartilage
- Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, gently press the cartilage while making a loud humming sound like a bee
- Again take deep breath and continue the same steps 3-4 times.
Yoga Asanas for Fertility:
Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
This pose stimulates the ovaries and uterus. The asana stretches the muscles at the lower back, hips and hamstrings. It is also useful in relieving stress and depression. It stimulates the solar plexus and helps reduce obesity.
- Sit on floor with legs stretched out in front with both feet pointed straight towards ceiling
- Now hold greater toes of both legs with the help of thumb and index finger
- Exhaling bend in forward direction by keeping both legs straight and try to place elbow on sides of legs
- Continue this posture for few minutes and hold breath as long as possible
- Now inhale and get back to starting position.
Badhakonasana (Butterfly Pose)
It provides a good stretch for the inner thighs, groins and knees and improves flexibility in the groin and hip region. The pose offers relief from menstrual discomfort.
- Sit in the lotus pose
- Position legs so that the soles of feet are touching each other
- Try to pull heels inward as close to the pubic area as possible
- Grasp feet with the hands. Keep the back as straight as possible
- Inhale and place a hand on each knee
- Exhale and press on thighs until knees touch the floor. Inhale and allow the knees to come back up again
- Repeat this process 15 to 20 times
Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose)
It is the best pose to relieve stress locked in lower back. If practiced right after intercourse, it encourages the sperm to penetrate deeper into the uterus.
- Pose can be practiced with or without props
- Place a folded towel underneath the tailbone while you rest legs on the wall
- Tailbone should tilt toward the ceiling and the shoulders, arms, and head should be resting on the floor
- Close your eyes and breathe slowly using the abdominal muscles
- Stay in this position for 10-20 minutes
- Slide legs slowly off the wall and get up with support of palms
Balasana (Child's Pose)
This pose helps to relax and rejuvenate the body
- Get down on your hands and knees
- Bring knees together and let buttocks touch the feet
- Lean forward stretching arms and hands above the head against the floor
- Place palms on the floor
- Rest forehead against the floor
- Stay in this pose for 2-3 minutes
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
This pose brings energy and vitality to the reproductive organs. It Improves blood circulation and reduces fatigue.
- Lie face down with feet together and toes pointing behind
- Keep legs close together
- Place hands flat on the floor under the shoulders and close to torso
- Taking a deep breath in, slowly lift the head, chest off the ground and tilt head back
- Go as far as it feels comfortable
- Exhale and gently move head toward the floor with forehead almost touching the floor.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
This pose energizes and increases blood supply to the pelvic organs.
- Lie on the back
- Bend knees and keep feet flat on the floor and face towards the ceiling
- Place arms out to the side
- Move feet toward the buttocks
- Slowly push the buttocks off the floor into a bridge pose
- Breathe gently with the abdomen
- Stay in this pose as long as it feels comfortable
Fertility Yoga is a natural and indigenous method of treatment. It can be performed alone or in conjunction with other forms of treatment. It does not guarantee conception but it definitely improves the fertility ratio. It's numerous physical and mental benefits have made it popular worldwide.
- Yoga Postures Step By Step - (http://www.aryasamaj.org/newsite/files_newsite/YOGA_Manual.pdf)
- Pranayamas - (http://www.yogaindailylife.org.au/pranayama)
- Postures for Meditation - (http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books- articles/articles/postures-for-meditation/)
- 10 Yoga Poses to Practice Before Meditation - (http://www.mindful.org/yoga- poses-for-meditation/)
- Meditation Exercises - (http://www.meditationworkshop.org/meditation-exercises/)
- How to Meditate - (http://www.how-to-meditate.org/)
- Try Guided Meditation Today - (http://meditationinsanfrancisco.org/free- meditation-video-audio)
Author: Dr. Sunita Chowdhary
Editor: Sushma Rao
Technically Checked by: Lingaraj