Preparing the body for conception during Spring

Written by Dr. Anju Sodhi (BAMS, ND) – view article source here

Notice the shifting of weather, the fluctuations between cold and hot, the days getting longer. Spring is breaking through! As this week is officially spring, we are reminded of new life and the budding of dormant beings. Men and women attempt to clear out the clutter of winter and the sluggishness the cold creates. The body feels heavy and slow but as spring melts away the fatigue of winter, many couples think about growing their own families during the season of growth. This month, we focus on fertility for the couple.

Spring is a tridoshic time of the year. Vata stimulates the need for movement and change. Transformation requires heavy doses of Pitta, and the dense and stable qualities of Kapha gives the world something to build with. Winter tends to leave excess Kapha in the body, especially the heavy, slow, and unclear qualities. The changes in the environment start to stir the doshic imbalances collected in the wintertime and must be dealt with to reduce the ama (toxins) in the reproductive organs. Many people think this is a difficult task, but like all spring cleaning, it can be simple.

A misconception about couples’ fertility is that women have a harder time preparing their bodies in the springtime. In truth, both men and women must adjust their diet, lifestyle, and possibly herbal therapies for the change of season. In Ayurvedic nutrition (which includes nutrition from food and environment), it takes about a month for proper nutrition to reach the reproductive organs. This means that a couple must provide each other cleansing and nutritious meals in order for the body to feel ready to conceive. Undergoing a small detox is a quick way to deeply cleanse the body. In Ayurveda, it is called Panchakarma. Start by doing a juice fast for about 3 days. This will intensify your digestive fire (Agni). Afterward, start a kitcheri fast in which your meals consist of different versions of kitcheri for another week or so. During this time, engage in daily dry massage. Step into the bathtub or shower. Using course garbanzo bean (chick pea) flour, massage the body starting at the ankles. Use long strokes for the long bones and circular motions for the round bones. Remember to massage the back. The garbanzo bean flour exfoliates the skin gently while pulling out toxins. You may notice the flour changes color due to this. Take a shower to remove the flour. Afterward, use almond or sesame oil to lubricate the skin. Lastly, take time to sit in a dry sauna, sweating out the winter accumulation. After about 10-14 days, the body is ready to consider preconception.

Preconception is almost more important than conception. Using the four essential elements of fertility, incorporating diet, lifestyle, and change in the external environment will set up people for successful childbearing.

Timing (Rtu) is the first element. It is not only the,” are we ready?” but also the time of the year and consistency of the menstrual cycle. It can revolve around financial stability, world events, and of course, season. Spring is the most fertile season as its warming and unctuous compared to the dry and cold winter. Adding trikatu to foods will help amp up the digestion fire, burning off the cold and allow the qualities of spring to balance the body. Adding turmeric to a supplemental regimen assists to reduce inflammation and bring the doshas back to balance.

Kshetra (the field) applies to both men and women. It comprises of a macro and microexpression. For example, the macro expression is the entire body of each parent as well as the environment that houses each of those bodies. The micro-expression is considered the uterus in which both the sperm and egg meet to create new life. Kshetra is not just a destination but a journey. To make a nurturing field, one must be clear of toxins, have their constitution close to balanced, and a healthy uterus to receive the gametes. Many people wonder why Ayurvedic medicine take such a long time preparing the mother for conception even if the father’s sperm may be the issue at hand. The reason is that the uterus must be ready with love, happiness, and freedom to nurture the new child. Herbs such as Arjuna, aloe vera, and symplocos racemosa help to nurture the uterus and the female hormone cycle. Saraca indica and Centella asiatica reduce stress in the mind as well as the female reproductive system, cultivating a field that can be ready for conception.

Health and nutritious fluids (or Ambu) include bodily fluids such as plasma and lymph, as well as the nutrients within the body fluids. That is to say that balanced hormones are part of ambu as well as minerals and vitamins needed to utilize carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. To obtain healthy ambu, stress should be addressed. When one is stressed, nutrition is utilized to calm the body, not to provide nutrients to a healthy fetus. Taking care of mental health is the key to creating healthy ambu. When we are healthy mentally, tackling larger lifestyle changes and diet modifications do not seem like daunting tasks. Please see this month’s recipes for preconception.

Lastly, the seed (Bija) refer to the egg and sperm. As stated before, the reproductive tissue is the last tissue to receive nutrients, being fed from all the tissues before it. Therefore, sperm and eggs are the most complete and unadulterated tissues in the body. Through respecting the Rtu, Kshetra, and ambu, the Bija should be happy and healthy. If men or women have issues with the gametes, herbs, exercise, and medication can improve the gamete quality. Men need to be more mindful of supporting Bija all the time because men produce mature sperm about every 35 days. That means that men need to support new gametes whereas women sustain healthy habits for all the eggs they are born with. Men should consider herbal therapies that include ashwagandha and saffron to ease the nervous system and support the genitals. Tribulus terrestris supports the prostate and urinary health of men, protecting the sperm.

Even if a couple must conceive using IVF for other procedures, adhering to these elements will increase the success of bringing a child into the world. Taking steps in preconception is vital to creating babies this spring. These steps should be fine, delicious, and bring peace.

Foods to Increase
  • Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric – are known as anti-inflammatory herbs and have been shown to help decrease inflammation and alleviate pain from arthritis.
  • Sulphur containing foods i.e asparagus, eggs, garlic, onions are needed for the repair and rebuilding of bone, cartilage, and connective tissue and also aid in the absorption of calcium.
  • Fresh pineapple contains Bromelain which is effective in reducing inflammation.
  • A high-fibre diet provides a boost of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy nutrients, while also helping to lower markers of inflammation. Consuming a low-fibre diet has been linked to increases in C-reactive protein, which is one of the acute phase proteins that increase during systemic inflammation. .
  • MUFAs include olive oil, avocados and nuts (especially almonds, cashews, and peanuts). PUFAs include fatty fish (one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids) like salmon, tuna, herring, trout, sardines and seeds such as sunflower, sesame, pumpkin. These healthy fats may play a role in lessening arthritic inflammation by reducing tenderness in joints, decreasing morning stiffness.