Women who have tonsils removed are 'more fertile'
Women who have their appendix or tonsils removed are more fertile than the rest of the population, a new study suggests.
The research, carried out by the University of Dundee and University College London, examined the anonymised medical records of hundreds of thousands of women in the UK.
They found that, over the 15-year study period, the chance of pregnancy was 34pc greater for women who had their appendix removed, 49pc higher following a tonsillectomy and 43pc greater for women who had both removed.
The findings are surprising as most doctors believe that an appendectomy can damage fertility by blocking the fallopian tubes. The researchers warn that many women who sought fertility help may have been wrongly told their failure to get pregnant was down to having their appendix removed.
"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.
"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 it was possible that women who suffered from appendix problems may simply have more sexual intercourse, which can cause pelvic inflammation. And reducing inflammation in the pelvis through an appendectomy could reverse any problems, making pregnancy easier.
The association may be behavioural rather than physical, the researchers warn.
But he said the findings should not be taken as a sign that women should seek an appendectomy or tonsillectomy thinking it could increase their chances of becoming pregnant.
"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 analysis looked at the records of 54,675 appendectomy-only patients, 112,607 tonsillectomy patients, and 10,340 patients who had undergone both procedures.
Removal of tonsils also appeared to raise the chance of pregnancy
Fertility expert Prof Allan Pacey said the study potentially opened new avenues for fertility treatments.