Ayurveda, the philosophical basis of traditional Indian medicine, promotes many plants and herbs for their adaptogenic qualities. They are said to help your body adapt to environmental stresses and readjust its functions back to normal. According to Ayurveda for You, shatavari, a member of the asparagus family, enhances fertility 1. In Sanskrit, shatavari means "she who possesses 100 husbands." Shatavari is taken to promote female fertility, lactation and libido and also to enhance male fertility.
A traditional ayurvedic concept is rejuvenation. Shatavari is prescribed to revive stressed or imbalanced female genital and reproductive functions, including hormonal balance and lubrication in the mucous membranes of the reproductive tract and uterus. These actions are believed to improve the environment and functions of the female reproductive system so it is more receptive and hospitable to sperm motility, conception and maintenance of a healthy fetus.
Shatavari for fertility management is usually taken for months or years before conception to create a long-term enhancement and stability within the female reproductive system. For optimal effect, shatavari is usually prescribed by ayurvedic medical practitioners to be taken twice per day, morning and evening. The herb is available as a powder made from the dried whole plant; 2 tsp. are taken with warm milk, or two 500-mg capsules of powdered shatavari are taken twice a day. Ayurvedic practioners also describe a concentrated extract of Himalayan shatavari, Asparagus racemosus, which requires only 250 mg twice a day. They strongly warn against online purchase of Asian shatavari products, many of which contain toxic additives not listed among the ingredients.
Fertility means the ability to produce a healthy infant, so lactation to nurture an infant is part of the mother's overall fertility and fitness to give birth. Shatavari is traditionally prescribed by ayurvedic doctors to help a pregnant woman get ready to produce enough milk. It is also said to enhance milk production for women who produce too little. Scientific research on this effect offers only mixed results.
Dr. Pradhadevi, a practitioner and researcher in obstetrics and gynecology in Mumbai, India, has documented that shatavari increases male fertility. Controlled, scientific studies demonstrate increased semen volume, sperm count and motility under the influence of shatavari. The herb produces a 25 percent increase in successful pregnancies among couples experiencing difficulty conceiving, comparable to the effect of expensive and potent prescription medications.
Shatavari is known to produce few side effects more serious than occasional stomach upset and diarrhea. However, some of its other recognized effects include a diuretic action and some ability to alter blood sugar levels. Always discuss use of shatavari with your doctor before using it to enhance your fertility.
- praisaeng/iStock/Getty Images