Are Women Without Appendix or Tonsils More Likely to get Pregnant?

pregnancy check up
Science & Medicine

Researchers at the University of Dundee at University College London have come to an unlikely conclusion; women who have had their tonsils or appendix removed are more likely to get pregnant. But the results certainly don’t make it fact.

The study contradicts what most doctors learned in medical school: that the removal of the appendix can reduce fertility later on in life. Though as you should expect, Dr. Sami Shimi states that women shouldn’t try to have healthy organs removed in order to simply improve their chances of pregnancy.

The results of the study come after the researchers spent time analyzing the medical records of at least 500,000 women in the United Kingdom.

Although the results seem clear, the authors of the study still aren’t sure what the correlation is between the removal and women’s fertility, if any.

Dr. Li Wei of the University College London explained the hypothesis so far:

“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 behavioral. We are pursuing both hypotheses with further research.”

In the study, the scientists examined the records of 54,675 women who had their appendix removed:

  • 112,607 who had their tonsils removed
  • 10,340 who had both procedures done
  • 355,244 who have had neither procedure

While the pools of women who have had the surgeries were smaller, the research showed that 54.4% of patients who had their appendix removed were able to get pregnant, contrasted with 54.4% with their tonsils removed, 59.7% with both organs removed and 43.7% of those who have had neither removed.

Professor Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield stated:

“This is an interesting paper which suggests that surgical removal of the appendix or tonsils (or both) in young women is associated with an increase in their fertility later in life. [2]

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).

If true, this may ultimately give doctors and scientists some new ideas for novel drugs or therapies to enhance women’s fertility.


[1] UPI

[2] BBC