Health And Wellness

7 Unexpected Reasons So Many Women Can't Get Pregnant

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woman with a negative pregnancy test

Infertility is a sensitive issue that can leave many women feeling alone in their unfulfilled dreams of getting pregnant. What they don't know is that they're hardly alone.

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, infertility affects 7.3 million women and their partners in the U.S. That's 12 percent of the reproductive-age population!

And, as scientists are beginning to discover, even the most seemingly insignificant things can add up to sabotage your baby-making efforts.

In fact, a 2014 study found that stress can double a woman's risk of infertility, and something as simple as a 20-minute walk can help her chances.

RELATED: 4 Natural Ways To Boost Your Fertility And Get Pregnant (That Help You Avoid IVF)

7 Reasons Why Some Women Can't Get Pregnant

Getting pregnant is never easy (and not always sexy), so to dispel the stigma of infertility, here are some other things you didn't know.

1. Being too fit can hurt the chances of conception.

In all medical matters, physical fitness is king. You can't be too overweight to conceive and you can't be too underweight to conceive.

So the fitter the better, right? Well, not exactly.

According to researchers at the Norwegian University Of Science And Technology in 2014, seven percent of all Norwegian women have fertility issues. They conducted a study involving 3,000 women and found that having an exhaustive workout regimen was decreasing their fertility.

2. Women with blood type O are at double the risk of diminished fertility.

Scientists from Yale University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine discovered that among female fertility patients in their 30s, those with type O were twice as likely as other blood types to have a hormone profile that made their ovaries seem older than their age.

But there can be steps taken to promote fertility.

3. Couples who overcome infertility together grow closer.

If you worry that the stress of trying to conceive will take a toll on your relationship, infertility problems can actually bring you closer together.

Findings in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, a journal published by Wiley on behalf of the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology, indicate that couples who were able to overcome their fertility problems were more intimately bonded through a perception of joint hardship — a concept known as "marital benefit."

RELATED: 7 Tips That Can Increase Your Chances Of Having A Baby

4. Women who consume two or more daily servings of low-fat dairy are at higher risk for infertility.

Women are encouraged to drink milk for stronger bones, but do we sacrifice our ovaries in the process?

One 2007 Harvard-affiliated study found that women who eat lots of low-fat dairy products face an 85 percent higher risk of ovulatory infertility than women who consume little or no low-fat dairy products.

5. Sun exposure balances sex hormones in women, improving fertility.

There must be something to the summer being the "season of love." 

Scientists at Austria's University of Graz conducted a study in 2012 and found that women ovulate less and their eggs have a reduced chance of implanting in the womb in the winter months.

Vitamin D helps boost levels of the female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen by 13 percent and 21 percent, respectively, regulating menstrual cycles and making conception more likely.

6. Gum disease delays a positive pregnancy test by two months or more.

No one likes the dentist, but you'd never realize how keeping your pearly whites clean can affect your chances of getting pregnant.

An Australian study from 2011 found that periodontal disease (gum disease) delays a positive pregnancy test by two months or more.

Researchers found that women with gum disease took an average of just over seven months to become pregnant — two months longer than the average of five months that it took women without gum disease to conceive.

Swollen gums and deep pockets around the teeth breed bacteria, which enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation, potentially reducing an embryo's chances of implantation.

7. A chemical in popcorn bag lining has been linked to infertility.

Your late-night snacking habit could be hurting your chances for kids in the long run.

A 2012 study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that the chemicals in the bag lining accumulate in your bloodstream through the popcorn.

And it's not just microwaveable popcorn — it's hiding in Teflon and other stain- and stick-resistant materials.

What's even scarier is that the chemical is detectable in the blood of 95 percent of Americans. So pop your own kernels and choose healthier options.

RELATED: To All The Women Who Say "One Day" — Don't Let Motherhood Pass You By

Alexandra Churchill is a writer and editor who currently works for Martha Stewart Living. Her work has been featured on sites including The Huffington Post and USA TODAY.