Appendix removal linked to higher pregnancy rates

Women who had their tonsils or appendix removed when they were younger may to be more likely to get pregnant compared to their peers who never underwent these procedures, a new study suggests.

The findings also indicate that these women get pregnant sooner.

Researchers in the UK assessed the medical records of hundreds of thousands of women and found that pregnancy rates were much higher among those who had undergone these procedures.

The study found that the pregnancy rate among the general population was 43.7%. However, among those who had their tonsils removed, it was 53.4% and among those who had their appendix removed, the rate was 54.4%.

Meanwhile, the pregnancy rate among women who had undergone both procedures was almost 60%.

"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," explained the researchers from the University of Dundee in Scotland.

However, when they looked at it again, the results were again ‘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," the researchers noted.

They insisted that these results are ‘of paramount interest' because having your tonsils and appendix removed are very common surgical procedures.

"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 researchers said.

However, they emphasised that women should not seek out these procedures in the hope that it will increase their chances of becoming pregnant.

"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," they commented.

The study was also carried out by a team from University College London and included the medical records of over 500,000 women. Details are published in the journal, Fertility and Sterility.


[Posted: Wed 03/08/2016]

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