Women who have their appendix or tonsils removed ‘MORE fertile and become pregnant faster’
- Pregnancy rates were higher in women who had these procedures
Women who have their appendix or tonsils out when they are young are more likely to get pregnant, a deep study has found.
They become pregnant more quickly than the rest of the population, it showed.
Having such an operation will not boost a woman’s fertility – but the finding will reassure women having such procedures that it won’t harm their chances of motherhood, researchers said.
They do not know why the link exists, but suspect it might be down to the behaviour of women who have these operations.
They added the findings might lead to new treatments – but advised women not to have their tonsils and appendix taken out unnecessarily.
For years, doctors have been taught having an appendix out cut a woman’s chances of conceiving.
But the new study, by scientists from the University of Dundee’s medical school, debunks this as a myth.
It examined the anonymised medical records of hundreds of thousands of women across Britain.
Women remain fertile until they are 45 and are wrongly being pushed into early IVF by private clinics, Robert Winston, Britain’s leading fertility expert, has said.
The NHS advises that women’s fertility starts to decline sharply from 35 and those planning to have a family should take this into account.
But Lord Winston, who heads the Genesis Research Trust in London, dismissed this. He said women are able to conceive until their mid-40s and suggested fertility clinics that say otherwise are doing so for financial gain.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday he said: ‘Actually even at the age of 40 your chances of getting pregnant spontaneously are pretty good if you keep trying, and it’s really not until you’re 45 there is a really sharp turn off.
They were highest among women who had both out (59.7 per cent), compared with those in the rest of the population (43.7 per cent).
And the time it took to get pregnant was also shortest among those who had both an appendectomy and tonsillectomy.
The study followed a 2012 report from the same research team which initially revealed the surprising statistics around appendectomies and pregnancy.
Mr Sami Shimi, of the University of Dundee medical school said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Mr Shimi said that the findings should not be taken as a sign that women should go under the knife for an appendectomy or tonsillectomy thinking it would increase their chances of becoming pregnant.
Researchers do not know why the link between having tonsils or appendix out and fertility exists – but suspect it might be down to the behaviour of women who have these operations
He said: ‘This research does not mean that removing a normal appendix directly increases fertility.
‘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.’
Dr Li Wei, of the School of Pharmacy at University College London, added: ‘This research is of paramount interest because appendectomy and tonsillectomy are very common surgical operations, experienced by tens of thousands of people in the UK alone.
‘Although a biological cause is possible, we believe that the cause is more likely to be behavioural. We are pursuing both hypotheses with further research.’
The study was published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility.
Experts advised women not to have an operation to get their tonsils or appendix out unnecessarily. So be very careful what you operate.