Studies suggest this common childhood procedure increases fertility

Research carried out by Dundee University and University College London suggest that higher pregnancy rates may be present in women who have undergone tonsillitis and appendectomy procedures in their youth.

Despite the popular notion that women who have undergone these common procedures will have decreased fertility levels, this study reveals the chances of becoming pregnant are increased by undergoing one and further increased by having undergone both procedures at a young age.

Sami Shimi, Co-author of the study and a clinical senior lecturer at Dundee University’s School of Medicine, said:

“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.”

Researchers behind the study urge women not to undergo these procedures unnecessarily in order to increase their chances of becoming pregnant. Due to the findings of this study they believe the resulting higher pregnancy rates are more likely be due to behavioural factors rather than biological. Researchers hope the results of these studies will instead ease the pregnancy and fertility concerns of women who have already undergone these procedures.

Dr Li Wei, Co-author of the study, from the School of Pharmacy at University College London, said:

“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.”

To reach their findings, the team analysed the medical records of women from the U.K. who had undergone the procedures between 1987-2012. Of the women examined 54,675 had received an appendectomy only, 112,607 women had a tonsillectomy only, and 10,340 women had both surgical procedures.

The researchers analysed the pregnancy rates among each group of women following their surgical procedures, and these were compared with those of 355,244 age-matched women from the general population who had not undergone either procedure.

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