How does yoga help males and females boost fertility?

Yoga is one approach to improve fertility and achieve better results when undergoing treatment. It is more than just a physical workout.

By Dr Parul Agrawal

Infertility is a problem of global proportions and has been recognised as a public health issue worldwide. If the couple is not able to conceive, it takes a major toll on their mental and physical health.

There are many factors responsible for infertility and besides pursuing treatment under the guidance of the doctor, there are many risk factors that can be negated by adopting a certain lifestyle. It has been well-documented that lifestyle factors, including age when starting a family, nutrition, weight management, exercise, psychological stress, cigarette smoking, recreational and prescription drug use, alcohol and caffeine consumption, environmental and occupational exposures to chemicals, preventive care and other behaviours are modifiable and may impact fertility.

Couples who wish to get good results should adopt healthy eating habits, avoid any kind of addiction, maintain an ideal weight and keep the stress at bay.

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Integrating yoga with modern science for enhanced benefits

Yoga practice is one way of improving fertility and getting a better outcome while undergoing fertility treatment. Yoga is very useful for preserving and maintaining one’s physical and mental health and also for spiritual evolution. More than physical exercise, it has a meditative and spiritual core.

How does Yoga help?

  • Yoga boosts the functioning of the reproductive system. There are certain yoga asanas and postures that especially target the reproductive organs and pelvic area. These asanas increase blood circulation and hence improves the vitality of these organs.

  • Researches have shown that yoga modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary gonadal axis, balances hormonal profile, reduces the stress level and improves the overall quality of life. Alteration in brain waves (basically an increase in alpha wave) and decrease in serum cortisol level was observed during yoga therapy.

Why is it so important to treat stress in infertility?

  • Following stress, the endocrine system releases stress-related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. LH levels are decreased and hence ovulation is disrupted.

  • Increased cortisol levels have been found to be strongly associated with miscarriages.

  • Increased implantation rate is also noted along with lowering of adrenaline level.

  • Chronically stressed women produce less GnRH hormone while preventing ovulation by starting a cascade of hormonally related changes.

Benefits of yoga in women

Yoga asanas to follow :

  • Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

  • Malasana (Squat or garland pose)

  • Janu shirasana (head to knee forward bend)

  • Supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle)

  • Baddha Konasana (butterfly pose)

  • Setu bandhasanas (bridge pose)

  • Paschimttoasnasa (seated forward bend)

  • Hastapadasanas (standing forward bend)

  • Salamba Sarvangasanas (supported shoulder stand)

  • Salamba Shirshasanas (supported headstand)

  • Kapalbhati pranayama

  • Bhramri pranayama (Bee breath)

  • Nadishodhan pranayams (alternate nostril breathing)

Studies have shown that YOGA could decrease distress in women before they started their first IVF cycle. In women who become pregnant via IVF, yoga decreases stress, anxiety and labour pain and increases delivery confidence.

  • Regular exercise of 30 min per day including asanas, pranayama and meditation help PCOD patients to lose weight and manage stress which ultimately stabilizes the normal function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Losing weight also helps in decreasing insulin resistance in these patients and It also helps in making cycle ovulatory. Loss of 5 to 10% of excess body fat leads to tremendous improvement in the hormonal profile.

  • It helps in regulating blood pressure and metabolism.

  • The practice of meditation and relaxation can help increase the clarity of mind, diminishes anxiety, maintain healthy body chemistry and improve their resilience and patience to undergo the rigours of infertility treatment.

  • In pregnancy, YOGA is found to

Reduce hypertensive related pregnancies

Improves foetal outcome

Increase infant birth weight

Decrease intrauterine growth retardation

Reduce the rate of assisted vaginal deliveries.

Benefits of Yoga in men

  • Studies have shown that the sperm count, sperm motility and prostate secretions showed improvement in men who practice YOGA.

  • Obesity adversely affects spermatogenesis. It is secondary to altered hormone change, i.e. reduced testosterone levels and also due to increased scrotal fat there is elevated testicular temperature leading to decreased spermatogenesis. Yoga helps these men to lose weight and regularise hormonal profile and hence improves spermatogenesis.

  • Researchers have indicated that yoga could improve immune system disorders, intravaginal ejaculation time and decrease sexual dysfunction.

  • Yoga could help regulate endocrine glands and the autonomic nervous system.

  • Mula bandh (root bond pose) was found to be correlated with relieving involuntary excessive ejaculation, preventing inguinal hernia, regulating testosterone and improving sexual desires.

  • Studies have shown that there are findings of decreased markers of oxidative stress, affecting the DNA integrity of the sperms in men practising YOGA.

  • It delays ageing.

  • Yoga helps to treat mild erectile dysfunction by reducing stress and anxiety.

  • It is good for prostate health as well.

The reviewed studies provide evidence that yoga can help couples overcome infertility and improve ART success rate by reducing anxiety and depression, decreasing stress, regulating hormonal secretions, improving the quality of life and increasing the fertility rate. One should adopt Yoga as it brings harmony in all walks of life.

(The writer is Senior Fertility and IVF consultant at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Noida)

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