Holistic approach to premature ovarian failure and infertility

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), also known as premature menopause is the loss of function of the ovaries before age 40. A commonly cited triad for the diagnosis is amenorrhea. The ovaries supply a woman with eggs until age 45, which is the average age of natural menopause. Infertility is the result of this condition, and is the most discussed problem resulting from it.

Clinically, this condition is defined by abnormally low levels of estrogen and high levels of FSH, means that the ovaries are no longer responding to circulating FSH by producing estrogen and developing fertile eggs. The age of onset can be as early as the teenage years, but varies widely. If a girl never begins menstruation, it is called primary ovarian failure.

Premature ovarian failure however often has components to it that distinguish it from normal menopause.

  • General causes of POF
  • Genetic disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Tuberculosis of the genital tract
  • Smoking
  • Radiation and/or chemotherapy
  • Ovarian failure following hysterectomy
  • Prolonged Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) or Luteinizing-hormone-releasing hormone therapy
  • Enzyme defects
  • Resistant ovary
  • Induction of multiple ovulations in infertility

Holistic approach to POF

A multidimensional health care approach encompasses several areas that seek to improve an individual’s health, including fertility. This is achieved by using natural fertility methods that include the following areas:

Ayurveda, diet, exercise, acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy, herbal medicine and medicated herbal massage

This approach is tailored to suit an individual’s specific health and wellness needs

1. Ayurveda: prefers to look at dysfunction of the part as a manifestation of imbalance of the whole. One cannot be separated from the other. Therefore, within the broad categories of patterns of disharmony, attention must be paid to the individual details of the person’s disease signs, symptoms and history. Ayurveda differential diagnosis is the guiding factor in developing a treatment strategy. Tongue, pulse, skin, hair, complexion, and other physical signs must be interpreted in light of the patient’s own medical and family medical history. Symptoms and Signs: Hot flushing, night sweats, insomnia, thirst, malar flush, tidal fever, low back pain, tinnitus, vaginal dryness, amenorrhea, scanty menses, dry skin and eyes, joint pain; tongue: Dry, red, with little or no coat­ing, possibly cracked. This condition can be treated using Asoka, Dasamoola, Chandraprabha, Satavari, Guduchi, and Jeevanti ( Leptadania reticulata).

2. Yoga: Santana yoga is a type of yoga that is designed to assist couples who are having difficulty getting pregnant especially with POF. Adhering to the basic principles of yoga, this yoga combines traditional yoga postures with postures that have been specifically developed in order to improve individual is reproductive health, thereby increasing their chances of getting pregnant. Hatha yoga:  This form of yoga includes slow, methodical postures and movements. Hatha yoga focuses on improving  posture and relaxation breathing techniques, and is meditative in nature Kripalu yoga:  Improves the connection between mind and body through simple postures and deep breathing techniques Santana yoga: An increasingly popular form of fertility yoga, couples yoga involves completing postures with the help of a partner. This type of yoga is especially beneficial for individuals experiencing fertility problems, as it helps to improve intimacy and communication between couples

3. Flower remedies may be taken in a prepared combination, or as advised by the physician.

a.      She oak reduces stress caused by fertility issues and improves hormonal imbalances

b.      Noni fosters feeling of nurturing and caring and reduces negative feelings

c.       Vervain A is relaxing flower remedy that calms feelings of anxiety and hypertension, which can impede fertility

d.      Wisteria promotes feelings of sensuality in the body and promotes calmness

e.       Aspen helps reduce feelings of anticipation and anxiety, thereby reducing levels of stress and helping to promote better overall reproductive health which increases your fertility

f.        White chestnut Another flower remedy helpful in getting pregnant, white chestnut reduces tension, stress and anxiety. Helpful in promoting mental health, white chestnut is particularly helpful in reducing feelings of bitterness and frustration which women who have difficulty getting pregnant often experience in their journey towards pregnancy

4. Aromatherapy can be beneficial in two ways when trying to get pregnant. Firstly, aromatherapy assists in regulating the menstrual cycle and promoting a healthy reproductive system. Secondly, it helps you relax; reducing levels of stress and depression, and can even function as an aphrodisiac for you and your partner.

Natural food and herbs to beat POF and infertility

Soya: Rich in isoflavones, cholesterol-free and containing protein, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, folic acid, iron and other vitamins and minerals etc. Specifically, a number of recent studies have found that soy can help reduce hot flushes, night sweats, and other menopausal symptoms.  It can also help lower cholesterol — which often raises the premature menopause. In addition, it may help lower triglycerides — which often rise during the estrogen therapy.

Finally, soy may help prevent osteoporosis.  Studies have shown that soy isoflavones help cut down on bone resorption, keep calcium from leaching from your bones, and increases bone density and bone mineral content.

Flaxseed: Flaxseed also is high in omega-3 fatty acids — a key helper in fighting heart disease, it’s high in phyto-estrogens, and flaxseed can help minimize symptoms like hot flashes.   Studies have shown that it can help lower LDL cholesterol.

Other studies have shown that it also may help fight breast cancer and other cancers. It’s high in omega-3 acids, may help ease symptoms like breast tenderness, cramping, and other PMS-like discomfort.

Vitamin E and Citrus Bioflavonoid: This combination is a hot-flush buster, studies showing that taking these two supplements together helps combat hot flushes.

Evening Primrose Oil: A good source of GLA (gamma linoleic acid), evening primrose oil has been used by many women to help fight PMS/ POF symptoms — many of which are the same as menopausal symptoms.  It’s a good bet to help prevent bloating, water retention, breast tenderness, cramps and vaginal dryness.

St. Johns Wort: Widely touted as a natural tranquilizer, this herb helps relieve irritability, depression, and fatigue.  Over 23 different studies have found that it’s effective in fighting depression — which often affects women when their hormone levels plunge suddenly, such as after surgical menopause.

Kava Kava: Another herb that appears to be a big help in reducing POF anxiety, fighting depression, and leveling mood swings, kava kava has been shown to be quite effective.

Valerian: POF insomnia, a common symptom, valerian may help.  It’s used widely in Europe to treat sleep disturbances, as well as for nervousness and menstrual problems.  It’s also known as an anxiety reliever in POF may help with mood swings and tension.

Source: Dr K Gowthaman, Medical Director, rVita (rVita Ayurveda Centers)

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