Did you have your tonsils or appendix removed when you were young? You’re more likely to get pregnant, apparently!
A new survey suggests women who have their appendix or tonsils removed when they are young are more likely to get pregnant, and do so sooner, than the rest of the population.
The study examined the anonymised medical records of hundreds of thousands of women in the United Kingdom.
Pregnancy rates were significantly higher among those who had had an appendectomy (54.4%), tonsillectomy (53.4%) or both (59.7%) than those in the rest of the population (43.7%).
This new study, carried out at the University of Dundee and University College London, followed a 2012 report from the same research team which revealed the statistics around appendectomies and pregnancy.
“For many years medical students were taught that appendectomy had a negative effect on fertility and young women often feared that having their appendix removed threatened their chances of later becoming pregnant,” said Sami Shimi, Clinical Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of Dundee and a consultant surgeon with NHS Tayside.
“Our first study produced such a surprising result – that women who had had their appendix removed actually appeared more likely to become pregnant – that we wanted to look at a wider group to establish whether this was really related to the removal of the appendix, which if left can be a cause of inflammation.
“However, once again the results have been surprising. We have found that women who have had an appendectomy or tonsillectomy, or even more particularly both, are more likely to become pregnant, and sooner than the rest of the general population.
“This scientifically challenges the myth of the effect of appendectomy on fertility. What we have to establish now is exactly why that is the case.”
Does having your appendix removed increase your fertility?
“This research does not mean that removing a normal appendix directly increases fertility,” said Mr Shimi.
“It does, however, mean that young women who need to have their appendix removed can do so without fear of the risk on future fertility.”
The researchers utilised the world’s largest digital repository of medical records from primary care, the UK Clinical Practice Research Databank. Their analysis included 54,675 appendectomy-only patients, 112,607 tonsillectomy patients, and 10,340 patients who had undergone both procedures. These were compared to the records of 355,244 women from the rest of the population, matched for age. The results of the study are published in the journal of Fertility and Sterility.