Lesser known causes may come into play for couples battling infertility


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist David Gardner

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE


Posted on January 3, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 3 at 8:21 PM

AUSTIN -- Infertility is a common problem among many couples trying to have children. Sometimes the causes are well known, but frequently the cause can be surprising.

Candace Biersmith was in her late-30's when she and her husband decided it was time to have children.

"My husband and I had actually been together 18 years," she said. "It was something we really didn't decide until we got into our late 30's to have children. We thought we would just be one of those couples that didn't have children and traveled. That was something I really had to think about it and decide that I didn't want to live my life and not have children."

After a year and a half of trying without success, Biersmith knew the clock was ticking.

"Being an older female I did want to check into seeing what my options were, because I didn't have five to 10 years to wait for it happen on its own," Biersmith said.

So Biersmith made an appointment with Dr. Thomas Vaughn -- a fertility specialist-- with the Texas Fertility Center. Vaughn explained a variety of things can negatively impact a couple's fertility, some known, some not so well known.  

Things like not enough exercise.

But did you know too much exercise can also hurt fertility chances? Most couples know to avoid alcohol or illegal drugs, but how many are aware too much caffeine can negatively affect fertility?

Vaughn said even the heat from a laptop computer can significantly lessen a man's sperm count.

"All of these things can affect woman's cycles in these crazy ways," said Biersmith. "I think until you really start tracking yourself and tracking things you don't realize how your diet and just your daily activities and your daily environmental issues affect your day to day life and your fertility."

As for Biersmith's difficulties in getting pregnant.

"She was a little bit more unexplained," said Vaughn. "She does all of the right things and didn't have any of those bad habits, so there wasn't really much to do to fine tune her behavior if you will."

Biersmith's problem was in her fallopian tubes which affected her ovulation. She and her husband opted for in-vitro fertilization and got pregnant after the first procedure.

"I think the end result of being pregnant makes it even more enjoyable, because this child was definitely wanted and loved," said Biersmith. "It was not the easiest way to get to this point."

Biersmith is just two months away from delivering a baby boy. 

Vaughn who is the first fertility specialist in Austin said while there's not much data on how brushing and flossing teeth helps fertility, once a woman becomes pregnant there's strong evidence indicating poor oral hygiene can lead to an increased risk in premature babies