Dr Jaydeep Tank, who works on IVF fertility says, "Fertility problems are nobody's fault. Infertility is a medical condition affecting almost one in ten couples trying to conceive. Male fertility problems are the primary diagnosis in approximately 25 % of cases and contribute to a further 15-25% of the remaining cases."
In men, the most common fertility issue is the inadequate production of sufficient normal, motile (moving) sperm. Although there are several factors leading to male infertility, a precise diagnosis, however, in most cases is elusive. This lack of clarity in diagnosis, treatment of male infertility in the large majority of cases remains empirical. It is therefore no wonder that the mainstay of treating severe male infertility still remains assisted reproduction and specifically Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Dr Urmila Sureka, who specialises in infertility and is an IVF consultant, states, "Approximately 15% of couples are unable to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse. A male factor is solely responsible in about 20% of infertile couples and contributory in another 30-40%." She adds, "Availability of infertility treatment has improved the probability of pregnancy."
Dr Anil Patil, a yoga guru who also works on integrated medicines, states that ayurvedic remedies have long been used to address the problems of fertility. He states, "Evidence of the use of herbal remedies for male infertility dates all the way back to 5000 BC. Here (see box below) are some beneficial ayurvedic plants and remedies."
Ayurvedic treatments for male infertility
Mucuna Pruriens (Kawach)
A medicinal plant, which has been mentioned in the treatises of ancient Indian texts such as the 'Charaka Samhita' and the 'Susrutha Samhita'. In Hindi, it is called 'Kawach'. The plant is a vigorous climber, bears purple or white flowers and has turgid S-shaped pods. The medicinally valuable parts are the seeds, though studies have revealed the presence of active components in stems and leaves too.
An excellent restorative and rejuvenating tonic, it ensures good physical performance for the individual and leads to balanced and harmonious health. Shilajit is also known as sex tonic in India as it increases the core energy responsible for sexual drive or libido. It balances debility, general fatigue and provides strength to muscles and bones.
The dried roots of Safed Musli (also known as asparagus) are used in Ayurveda as an aphrodisiac. Its tubers are used in Ayurvedic medicine preparations. It contains about 30% alkaloids, natural steroid saponin (10-20%), polysaccaroids (40 to 45%), carbohydrates and proteins (5% to7%). White Musli or Safed Musli is primarily used as a tonic to rejuvenate the reproductive system. The regular use of this herb is valuable in impotency, premature ejaculation and low sperm count in men. As it is very rich in glycosides, it works very well in curing impotency and low sperm count
This is a very effective medicine for male infertility. As a digestive, it corrects metabolism and helps to provide proper nutrition. It is effective in mental disorders. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is a tonic for the nerves and helps in neuritis. It is helpful in sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction and Oligospermia.
- With Azoospermia (no sperms in semen) testicular biopsy is used to define the histological diagnosis and possibility of finding sperm. Spermatozoa should be cryopreserved for use in intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Even if sperms available are few, fertilisation can be achieved with ICSI.
- Where sperms cannot be retrieved donor semen can be used for insemination.
- In cases of obstructive Azoospermia obstruction can be bypassed by surgical procedures like Vasovasostomy Tubulovasostomy
- Drug therapy may be used to improve semen parameters in certain cases.
- Ejaculation disorders can be treated using a wide range of drugs and physical stimulation, with a high level of efficacy.
- With availability of genetic studies, genetic disorders contributing to infertility can be identified.
- Counseling can be done regarding the transmission of the defect and its implication depending on the type of defect.