International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the progress made , to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities .
Ayurveda considers Woman as the backbone of the society , she is the progenitor .
But , access to safe voluntary family planning is human right . Family planning in central to gender equality and women’s empowerment and is a key in reducing poverty .
Rigveda states ‘ A man with many children succumbs to miseries .’ To have one enlightened child is better than to have many illiterate children .
Various contraceptive measures are described in Ayurveda classics .
Period of cohabitation was limited . The cohabitation was done for procreation and not for carnal pleasures . Active conjugal life was for 25 years ie from 26th year ( after completion of education ) to 50th year . There were restrictions also ie avoidance of coitus on certain specific dates , eclipses , festivals , fasts , ceremonies .
LOCAL CONTRACEPTIVES :
Genital tract is fumigated by burning of Neem ( Azadirachta indica ) bark when the menstruation stops .
A tampon made with rock salt and Til ( Sesamum ) oil is kept after coitus .
A fine paste of seeds of Palash ( Butea monosperma ) , honey and ghee should be kept in vagina during ovulatory period .
ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES :
Old jaggery taken with rice wash in the form of linctus acts as a contraceptive .
Root of Chitraka ( Plumbago zeylenica ) is boiled with rice wash . After filtering it , decoction is taken for three days after cessation of menstrual flow .
Seeds of Palash taken for three days during ovulatory period .
Flowers of Japakusum ( Hibiscus rosa Sinensis ) plucked in early morning are taken for three days ie 4th , 5th and 6th day of menses .
Administration of paste of Tanduliyaka ( Amaranthus spinosa ) made with rice wash is taken for three days after menstruation stops .
Leaves of Champaka ( Michelia campaka Linn ) are soaked in water overnight . Paste is made and taken during menses .
White variety of Gunja ( Arbrus precatorius ) is also used . One Gunja on fourth day of menstruation , Two Gunja on the fifth day and Three Gunja on sixth day acts as a contraceptive .
Pippalyadi Churna : Powder of Pippali ( Piper longum ) , Vidang ( Embelia ribes ) and Tankana ( Borax ) are taken in equal quantity with milk during ovulatory period .
Banjauri plant ( Vicoa indica ) is used as an oral contraceptive by tribals of Bihar ( Sukhodeora ).
In Ranchi , an oral contraceptive made with 2 – 4 gm Paan root ( Piper betel ) and 2 – 4 gm Bamboo seeds are taken orally , empty stomach , in the form of tablet .
Various medicinal plants have been tested for their Anti fertility activity both in male & female animal models . Numerous herbs have been used historically to reduce fertility and modern scientific research has confirmed Anti fertility effects of some of the herbs .
Anti implantation and pregnancy interruption activity was noted in animal models in Japakusum – indicating the contraceptive activity which has similar results with the standard Ovral –L .
Seeds of Queen Anne’s Lace : Studies on rats show that seeds inhibit both fetal and ovrian growth .
A post coital contraceptive could be developed from seeds of Butea monosperma , leaves of Mentha arvensis and root of Plumbago rosea which are currently used by tribal population of Odisha .
Embelia ribes : It was administered in a dose of 2 gm for 5 days followed by 1 gm daily for another 10 days . After observing the effect on 2051 cycles over four years , it was reported that the plant protected 95% of women from pregnancy .
Vaginal creams and suppositories made with Neem oil are quickly becoming the birth control method of choice in India . They are non-irritating and easy to use while almost 100 percent effective. It’s important to note, however, that even toxic spermicides are not 100 percent effective. When tested against human sperm neem extract (sodium nimbidinate) at 1000 mg was able to kill all sperm in just 5 minutes and required only 30 minutes at a 250 mg level. They have the added benefit of preventing vaginal and sexually transmitted diseases .
There are 11 plants tested with animals that show 100% Anti implantation activity . They are Aristolochia indica , Curcuma longa , Cuminum cymimium ,Daucus carota , Embelia ribes , Ensete superbium , Hyptis sauveolens , Mentha arvensis , Podocarpus brevifolia , Polgonium hydro piper , Sapindus trifoliatus .
Most modern form of birth control are 70% to 99% effective depending on the method chosen .
Each herb has varied effect on the body and no two herbs are alike in their abilities to prevent conception .Some herbal contraceptives have a cumulative effect in the body , they need to be taken regularly to maintain the contraceptive effect .
Contraceptive measures also serve as a proxy measure to access the Reproductive Health services that are essential for meeting many of the Millenium Development Goals , especially for those concerned with Child Mortality , Maternal Health , HIV/AIDS and Gender Equality .
Herbs can offer alternatives and Reducing Fertility would be better than NO birth control .