As mentioned before, yoni refers to the female genital tract, which is comprised of 3 parts viz the vagina, cervix, and uterus. Anatomical anomalies of any of these parts, e.g. a small and contracted vagina, lack of aperture in the hymen, a narrow cervical opening, anatomical irregularities in the uterus, or a weak uterus, blocked fallopian tubes, polycystic ovaries, and other ovarian disorders, could all result in the failure to conceive. In addition, physiological disorders, such as anovulatory cycles, could also prevent conception.
A functional imbalance during menstruation, and an excess of pitta dosha, lead to excess heat in the vagina. In this increased temperature the sperm entering the vagina may be destroyed, and conception does not take place.
In rare cases, where the woman is fearful of, or apprehensive about sexual intercourse, or cannot endure sex, of course, conception becomes difficult. These problems should be treated promptly and correctly. Superficial or temporary therapies will not lead to complete treatment.
Another extremely important aspect to keep in mind is the relationship between the woman and her husband’s family. The woman especially, should have good relations with her husband’s side of the family. Since the child-to-be also receives certain ‘programmes’ from the father, it is imperative that the woman has the support of his family. If they do not support her, it could block the chances of conception for the couple.
This is the most important part of the subject of women’s health. You will find that disorders due to hormonal imbalance overlap with, and are related to, several other problems that women may encounter. When talking about hormonal imbalance for women, the most important aspect, and the most neglected one, are the activities and behaviour of women during menstruation.
Ayurvedic science has clearly given menstruation a lot of thought. There are detailed descriptions about this issue in the texts. Behavior and lifestyle that needs to be adhered to during these days is outlined explicitly.
Behavior During Menstruation
Menstruation constitutes the first three days of the monthly cycle, and a special regime is prescribed for these special days. During this time the woman loses a certain amount of blood and is therefore more sensitive and emotional. Women should take extra care to avoid all kinds of mental and physical stress during menstruation. It is recommended that she should not exercise too much, lift any weights, or even work too much. During menses a woman should avoid crowded places, late nights, sleeping in the day, trimming nails and hair or taking a full bath. Not taking a bath does not mean that physical cleanliness and washing should be neglected; it merely means that she should not wash her hair, stand under the shower or bathe in a tub, as would be normally done.
Menstruating women should not watch scenes or movies which excite her or elicit fear (such as horror movies) or read such books. They should certainly avoid disputes with family members or at work. Food should be light, nutritious, and sattvik. She should make sure that she has proper and regular bowel movements. It is highly recommended that she contemplates on good and positive thoughts during this period.
During these three days the flow is directed downward in the body, and physical energy is low. So contact with places and things of high energy, should be avoided e.g. temples and kitchens (food and water, except that which is meant for her own consumption). More importantly, she should abstain from sexual intercourse during these three to four days.
All of these guidelines have been set out to protect the health of the woman and her future child. Couples who want to have a healthy offspring should pay heed to these rules and follow them very strictly. All women should adhere to these guidelines throughout their years of menstruation to maintain good health, hormonal balance, and femininity in general.
In modern times the life of women has changed dramatically. They are equal to men in terms of work and household chores. Women have assumed responsibility for their careers, along with caring for and nurturing their families. Modern women have advanced into every possible field, made their mark in almost all walks of life, and have reached new heights.
And consequently, the woman has also been driven further away from her nature. Her innate tendencies, such as delicateness, sensitivity, tenderness, and her emotional life, have been compromised. She may have to pursue a job or career that may clash with her basic nature, health, or constitution.
Since every job requires a specific physical and mental constitution, it follows that all jobs are not suitable for all people. In addition to taking care of the home, a career-woman may have work-related stress, tension with her superiors etc which could cause her general health to deteriorate.
Not so long ago, women would want to sit for meals with their husbands and families, but today, after working at home as well as the workplace, women regularly say, “Let’s go out for dinner.” This habit harms everybody’s health.
We have learned, rather too easily, to say that we do not have the time to follow things that are good for us. And so the simple rules of behavior during menstruation are ignored, along with much needed rest during these days. All this will result in hormonal imbalances and several related disorders.
It is difficult to prove ‘scientifically’ the negative effects of not following these guidelines during menstruation, but it is easily seen that general health is adversely affected. None of the processes of child birth, from conception, to implantation of the embryo, pregnancy, and delivery, will ensue in a planned and desirable manner if these practices are ignored. They will be fraught with difficulty. Hormonal imbalances in young women mean that their health is poor at an early age, causing several unexplainable illnesses. Cases of children being born with diseases which seem to have no cause are also on the rise. The causes for such seemingly unexplained diseases in both, young women, as well as newly born children, will be rooted in the woman’s behavior during menstruation, and her overall lifestyle that has disturbed her hormonal balance. In order to prevent these potentially tragic problems please consider the above mentioned guidelines very carefully and act on them. Ayurved sets out, very clearly, the possible consequences to the child if menstruation guidelines are not followed by its mother, before conception. Therefore Ayurved says that a woman should habituate herself to be careful during menstruation from an early age. Obviously, she should be doubly careful in the months before she conceives. If she behaves in a manner that will disturb her hormonal balance during this preparatory period, the chances of adverse effects on her child increase dramatically. Ayurved gives examples such as, if a woman cries during the first three days of her menstruation it is possible that her child will be born with disorders of the eye. If she sleeps in the day, the child could be over-active or fidgety; if she works in excess, the child could be mentally retarded or psychotic; if she has a full body ‘Abhyang’ massage, the child could be born with skin disorders; if she applies kajal (kohl) to her eyes, the child could be born blind. Several of these cause and effect relationships will provide answers to the question “Why did this happen?” when there appears to be no obvious cause for a particular disease in a child.
Even if a woman is not planning for a baby, such actions during menstruation may adversely affect her own health. A regular menstrual cycle is an indicator of hormonal balance. Changes in the hormonal system could cause not only irregular menstruation, but also may bring on symptoms such as depression, sudden increase in weight, pimples and rashes on the face, and premenstrual bloating (especially heaviness of the breasts and oedema).
It is obviously extremely desirable to have healthy conception, proper growth of the foetus, nourishment in the uterus for the foetus, smooth delivery in the normal period of nine months, and adequate lactation. They are all dependent on optimal hormonal balance.
Inappropriate food and lifestyle habits are already responsible for disturbing the hormonal system. Nowadays women ignore that they need to rest and care for themselves during menstruation, causing further unnecessary strain. Then, fixes like contraceptive pills, especially immediately after marriage, to prevent pregnancy, and the rampant use of other hormonal pills to try and control menstrual cycles according to one’s convenience, really puts pressure on the body causing cases of severe hormonal imbalance.
Scanty Menstrual Discharge
A delayed menstruation, reduced bleeding, or a short menstruation is called rajakshaya. This could be accompanied by pain during menstruation, and could also include blood flowing in the form of clots. The two main causes for this are a diet lacking in proper nutrition, and low haemoglobin (anaemia). Anaemia could also result from long, chronic illnesses such as typhoid or jaundice. Factors that lead to imbalance in vata dosha can also cause rajakshaya. According to Ayurved, menstrual blood originates from rasa dhatu. Any factor which causes this dhatu to diminish e.g. excessive thinking or stress, can also lead to rajakshaya. If this condition prevails for an extended period of time, it could lead to an increase in weight – primarily in the back and waist region – excessive hair loss, darkening of the skin, increased body heat or general weakness.
In general, women will take only problems like weight gain and hair loss seriously! However, if the root cause of rajakshaya is treated, then all other related problems will disappear along with it. Aloe vera is beneficial in such cases, and medications such as Kumari Asav, Ashokarishta, or Santulan Feminine Balance Asav, which are prepared from aloe vera and other herbs, are useful in the treatment of rajakshaya.
Milk, according to Ayurved, should be consumed everyday. In cases of hormonal imbalance, Santulan Shatavari Kalpa, and Santulan Shatanant KaIpa are very useful to help nourish rasa dhatu and are to be taken with milk. To nourish rakta dhatu (blood) and increase haemoglobin, San Rose is recommended for everyday consumption.
Excess Menstrual Discharge
The opposite of rajakshaya is excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhoea). Many women are under the false impression that the heavier the menstrual flow, and the longer the bleeding lasts, the deeper and more intense the cleaning and purification process will be. Actually heavy and prolonged bleeding does nothing more than deplete strength. The loss of blood also leads to dullness and loss of lustre on the skin, dizziness, and hair loss. There could also be recurring bouts of irritation, psychological turmoil, and a general loss of peace of mind. The most serious resulting problem, however, is the weakening of the uterus, and if this is not rectified, it could lead to the inability to conceive. Depending on the cause of the excess blood loss the treatment is aimed towards the following 4 points
- Stopping blood loss
- Recovery of blood lost
- Cleansing and strengthening of the uterus
- Restoration of hormonal balance.
The remedies recommended for this include: Pushyanug chuma, Lodhrasav, roasted and puffed alum, San Rose, vaginal douches with special herbal decoctions (kadha), inserting medicated oils into the vagina (i.e. a cotton swab soaked in oil such as Santulan Femisan Oil), and herbal ghee preparations such as Santulan Ashokadi Ghruta and Phalaghruta, to strengthen the uterus.
The main cause of this condition, is an imbalance in vata and pitta doshas. The following foods are to be avoided in this condition. Very oily or spicy, fermented products. Tamarind, sour yoghurt, dried peas, chickpeas, dried beans and legumes, and kidney beans, should be excluded from diet.
Vaginal Discharge and Infections
The appearance of a white and sticky or watery discharge, is considered normal only if it occurs one or two days prior to the onset of menstruation, or at the time of ovulation. A discharge occurring at any other time is not considered normal. It could lead to back ache, pain in the legs, weakness, and fatigue. This requires attention, even if the quantity of discharge is very negligible. Ayurvedic physicians call this condition Som Rog (Som means elixir, Rog means disease). In such cases, the woman loses shukra and other vital dhatus important for ‘life’ (i.e. which are equivalent to an elixir), in the form of vaginal discharge. This causes the uterus to become weak thereby making it difficult for the woman to conceive.
In many cases, women ignore abnormal or heavy vaginal discharge, and are completely unaware that the appearance of even small amounts of discharge, whether regular or sporadic, is an alarming development. As a result, this serioussymptom may be ignored for years. At the Atmasantulana Village, in Karla, many couples have been treated for infertility. Even though most of their tests showed normal results, they were still unable to conceive. After many questions and a deeper probe into their medical histories, it often is discovered that one or both partners have neglected urinary or genital tract infections in the past.
Women often take hurried, haphazard treatment for these disorders and since such infections are difficult to treat they are often not cured completely. Certain medications often treat the problem superficially, and relieve only the troublesome symptoms, leaving a dormant internal infection which continues to surface in any number of situations. After such prolonged and recurrent infections, the chances of conception are obviously reduced.
A large part of the therapy for such problems is the use of Santulan Femisan Oil. In a later chapter the complete recommendations for the care of the gynaecological system have been described. They include placing cotton swabs doused in Santulan Femisan Oil in the vagina, cleaning the vagina with herbal douches and smoke therapy. This should be accompanied with the intake of Santulan Uricool Satulan Prashant Churna.