'Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis 2018: Current Practice and Beyond', 9-10 November 2018
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_95633

Women without an appendix or tonsils are more fertile

8 August 2016
Appeared in BioNews 863

Women who have had their appendix or tonsils removed appear more likely to become pregnant and do so sooner, according to a study.

The reasons for the association are not yet understood, and doctors had previously believed that removing the appendix could be detrimental to fertility.

'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 at the University of Dundee Medical School, who was lead researcher for the study. '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 study, published in Fertility and Sterility, analysed the medical records of more than half a million women over 25 years. Pregnancy rates were significantly higher among those who had had an appendectomy (54.4 percent), tonsillectomy (53.4 percent) or both (59.7 percent) than among those who had had neither (43.7 percent).

In a 2012 study the same team had reported an association between appendectomy and increased fertility. The researchers had suggested at that time that this might be due to the negative impact of pelvic inflammation, caused by the appendix, on reproductive organs. However, the additional association between tonsillectomy and increased fertility suggests that the explanation may be related to other immunological or behavioural factors.

'There are several explanations which may account for these observations, one of which is that the removal of these tissues makes an alteration to their immune system which has an impact to some aspect of the reproductive process, such as how their embryos implant in the womb,' Professor Allan Pacey of the University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the study, told BBC News. 'If so, this may ultimately give doctors and scientists some new ideas for novel drugs or therapies to enhance women's fertility.'

Dr Li Wei of University College London, the study's co-author, offers a different potential explanation: '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.' For example, women who have more sexual partners are more likely to have pelvic inflammatory disease, which could lead to them having their appendix removed.

The authors emphasised that this is a cohort study and only demonstrates association, not causation. There is no reason to think that removal of the appendix or tonsils would improve fertility, they cautioned.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Appendix and tonsil removals lead to higher pregnancy rates, study shows
University of Dundee (press release) |  2 August 2016
Association between prior appendectomy and/or tonsillectomy in women and subsequent pregnancy rate: a cohort study
Fertility and Sterility |  6 July 2016
Women without appendix 'more fertile'
BBC News |  2 August 2016
Women without tonsils or appendix may be more fertile
CNN |  2 August 2016
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
24 October 2016 - by Annabel Slater 
Artificial sweeteners found in soft drinks may reduce female fertility, a study suggests...
1 August 2016 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
Around one in three women conceive naturally in the six years after discontinuing fertility treatment, an internet survey of over 400 women has found...
11 July 2016 - by Dr Lanay Griessner 
A little-known virus has been found in the uteruses of around half of women with unexplained infertility, a study has found...
4 July 2016 - by Dr Rachel Brown 
Nearly one-fifth of women aged 35 to 44 years have had problems conceiving, according to a survey of over 15,000 British people...
20 June 2016 - by Amina Yonis 
Most fertility-tracking websites and phone apps provide women with inaccurate information on the best time to conceive, a study has found...
31 May 2016 - by Dr Özge Özkaya 
A majority of female cancer patients with 'uncertain' fertility status have said they were not given enough information about the risks of infertility resulting from their treatment...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.