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I remember my main concern when my uterus decided to stop shedding her lining for 18 months straight. "What if my body forgot how to ovulate?" I know my mother had struggled with this for 7 years before she conceived me, due infrequent ovulation. We're talking once or twice per year. My grandmother's story was similar. It honestly felt like someone had casted a spell on each second daughter in our family. With or without superstition, there are studies that suggest that infertility runs in the family. It's important to note that no one has ever identified an actual infertility gene. Instead it's much more likely to be linked to other hereditary conditions, with infertility as a mere symptom or side effect. 

How Ayurveda explains Reproduction

Clue: once I found Ayurveda, my period returned within 6 weeks! It was the foundational reason I started my track towards Ayurvedic Practitioner. Now if we look at that last bit through the Ayurvedic lens, that makes sense. In Ayurveda's Anatomy, the human body roughly consists of 7 essential building blocks, that replenish, repair and maintain your body in a chronological, cyclic order. Each building block influences the "quality" of nutrition for the next building block. The cycle starts with plasma and ends with the reproductive tract. Meaning that your reproductive health depends on... all the things in between! That includes the digestive fire, stress levels, functioning of all other organs and levels of red blood cells, just to name a few. So when deep patterns of "compromised maintenance" are present in the body, the pelvic organs are likely to show some signs of discomfort. Ayurvedically, they have been malnourished for x amount of time. In hereditary cases, even programmed to be since before you were born! When your building blocks are nurtured, your pelvic organs are nurtured too. The "end product" is explained to go back into your cycle of maintenance. That end product is known as "Ojas" and can be translated as both bliss and immunity. When intercourse happens at the right moment, this bliss and immunity-like strength and intelligence is transferred to the embryo. However, when said Ojas is depleted, it's likely that ovulation won't occur. It's your body's primal intelligence preventing you from further depletion and the undesired (to say the least) side effects thereof.

Side note: fertility and birth control

Going by Ayurveda's Soul-Mind-Body Connectivity Theory, one could conclude that when ovulation is prevented with birth control, the subtle consciousness within your body cells may still believe your Ojas is depleted. And so once weaned from birth control, it's likely that your body needs time and space to rejuvenate before feeling ready to ovulate.

How Ayurveda Supports Fertility

Clue: it's built into your body already! Ayurveda offers beautiful full spectrum cleanses, followed up with a period of personalised rejuvenation and a unique lifestyle plan that matches your Mind-Body Type to re-obtain Ojas. We call these series of therapies "Pancha Karma" and it has shown to be beneficial to those who are trying to reverse a wide range of complaints, including stubborn ones like Candidiasis, PCOS or Endometriosis. However, not everyone has the time to take out 7 to 27 days from their life to retreat. Here's the thing though: since women have birthed children for thousands of years, the female body was born to retreat once every 27-29 days: during their periods! In Ayurveda the period is believed to be a window of opportunity to honour our bodies natural "downward flow" (as to flush toxins out) so we can start with a clean slate once our womb is done cleansing. Simultaneously, any symptoms of PMS give you direct (metaphysical) insights into what your body would like less of for the cycle to come. You get the idea, by taking time to pause, reflect and cleanse every 27-29 days your body won't be creating deep pathways of compromised maintenance at a cellular level. Of course some cycles take longer. But this ideal time frame of 27-29 days flows amazingly well with the Moon cycle. Here's why:
  • When the body ovulates at full moon, Earth's nights are lit and the oceans tide high simultaneously. These events complement each other.
  • Following an average menstrual cycle, the uterus will then begin to shed her lining 2 weeks later, serving you with your period at New Moon. The body is likely to be low on energy, ready to retreat. This retreat is ideal under New Moon, when Earth's nights are the darkest, because the absence of light complements the process of turning inwards and facilitates rest.
A beautiful metaphor for how the Moon complements the work of the Womb is weaved into Sanskrit, the ancient Vedic language. The Sanskrit word Dara means Womb. Dara also means Bowl. The bowl is full at full Moon. Ready to nourish a fertilised egg. The bowl empties in the "empty/absent light" of New Moon. Following New Moon, the waxing phase begins. Simultaneously, the bowl starts to fill up again. In the womb that resembles the follicular phase.

A Monthly Retreat Called Menstruation

"Traditionally, during the menstrual time, women were served meals by the elder women. Children and young people were kept at a distance from the menstrual ground and lodge. Instinctively, the animals retreated deeper into the forest and away from the lodges. In fact, the ancient texts inform that the animals were terrified of the potency of the menstrual blood. They recognised that the lining of our inner moon was evacuating the procreative material of Shakti, which would be poisonous if imbibed by them." - Maya Tiwari
The idea is that the more effectively you "empty" during your menstruation, the fresher (and thus qualitative) your womb's procreative refill will be. This emptying will simply be more efficient if you let it happen without obstruction. Here are some simple tips for a healthy period:
  1. Choose menstrual hygiene products that allow your blood to flow freely. Tampons for that reason are a no go.
  2. Try to take at least 48 hours off from work so you can take the self care measures needed to get through your period without suppressing your bodies' urge to cramp.
  3. Self care examples are a foot soak with epsom salts, warm herbal tea's like nettle, raspberry leaf and oat straw to nourish the blood, castor oil packs and warm water bottles.
  4. Meditative, slow, lower back stretches to relieve cramping at "the back of your womb".
  5. Choose walks over exercise whilst bleeding. The menstrual flow is downwards. That's why Ayurveda favours grounding, slow movements over faster, harder or jarring movements.
  6. Refrain from caffeine. Or any other stimulants that replicate a level of energy your body doesn't really have.
  7. Have some dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which will help your body relax.
  8. In pain? Rather than taking pain killers which suppress your body's natural processes, try to find relief in mother nature. Essential oil of Peppermint or Ginger relieves headaches (or a tea of the fresh root and leafs), Essential oil of Clary Sage and Blue Yarrow relief cramp when diluted and topically applied to the area's that are in pain. 2oz fresh Aloe Vera Juice + Black Pepper helps relief internal discomfort.

Healing and Optimising Your Follicular Phase with Herbal Concoctions

Before you can retreat to allow your womb to empty and reset, your bowl first needs to fill up sufficiently. Your follicular phase - the time frame in which your follicular stimulating hormones prep an egg to mature and *pop* during ovulation - begins because your hormones think it's time to produce an egg. It's a cyclic process, normally initiated on your first day of bleeding. If your body clock doesn't seem to tick in cycle alignment, or instead: cyclic discomfort is triggered whilst you're moving through the phases... It is time to bring Cycle Awareness into your life, and to bless your way into the follicular phase with Herbal Concoctions.  Ayurveda's key practice to bring healing into your bowl is called Uttara Vasti. The practice consists of three consecutive yoni (Vedic for Vagina) baths starting on the 4th day of the Waxing Moon. The practice itself is simple: you take a hip bath or a sitz bath in a herbal concoction between 7 and 8 (am or pm). Squeeze your buttocks to invite a tiny amount of the concoction into the vaginal channel. Release after 2 minutes (quite a good butt workout if you ask me). Repeat three times. Pat dry with a bath towel. It's advised to treat yourself to a gentle self massage with sesame oil before the practice, and a belly massage after the practice. If you can rest for a few hours in a cosy and warm space after you finish that'd be ideal. When: the 1st through the 8th day after New Moon. If menstruating around this time, wait 2 or 3 days before doing the practice. If you're trying to align your cycle with the lunar rhythms, the 1st and the 2nd day after New Moon are the best days to do the practice.

Herbal Formula for Your Yoni Bath (sitz bath)

Whilst the practice in itself is a simple yet effective way to re-align your body with the complementary lunar energies and ideal, timed cycle length (which all helps to optimise fertility... prediction is key after all), it's the herbs that do the real work. Mother Maya Tiwari, author and spiritual teacher to many Ayurvedic practitioners, writes about the ancient lunar practice of Uttara Vasti in her book "Women's Power To Heal". To read into more formula's for your specific situation I recommend reading chapter 5. The book has proved an absolute blessing in my own fertility journey (remember how I opened the article with my fertility concerns? 6 weeks after trying Ayurveda I had my first period and am now honoured to be the mother to my 15 months young son) and continues to be in the daily practice of my clients. So although Chapter 5 will be a great starting point, I'd suggest reading far beyond it. That being said, I can now move on to sharing the basic herbal formula for this womb healing practice:
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon Triphala powder
  • 1 table spoon Aloe Vera Gel
How to: bring water to a boil in a double boiler. Add Triphala powder, then cover and allow to simmer for approximately three minutes. Remove the container from heat and allow the solution to steep for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, retaining the sediment. Pour the aloe vera gel into the solution, then pour the solution into the sitz bath. -  By Mother Maya, "Women's Power To Heal" page 83, Chapter 5: Uttara Vasti. *Be careful not to sit on the bath when the solution is still hot. Always test the temperature on the skin at the inside of your wrists, or with the tip of your pinky finger. DISCLAIMER: As with all health & wellness information, always consult your professional healthcare providers before beginning any new treatment or program. The information in this article is not intended to serve as medical advice and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem. This website is not a substitute for professional medical care. The information given is provided for educational use and describes ways in which a variety of natural healthcare have been used traditionally by complementary medical practitioners and natural healthcare practitioners. Consult your doctor or Complimentary Medical Practitioner before acting on any of the suggestions or recommendations. The owners of this website and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for any consequence resulting directly or indirectly from any action or inaction you take based on the information found on material linked to this site.
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