Women who have their appendix out 'have a greater chance of becoming pregnant'
Women who have to have appendix removed 'should not worry about infertility'
10:07 GMT, 4 July 2012
Further research is needed to find out if there is 'something unique' about women who require appendectomies that boosts their fertility
Women who have their appendix out have a greater chance of becoming pregnant, according to experts.
A study in the journal Fertility and Sterility debunks the notion that the common operation can lower a woman's chances of conceiving.
The procedure is usually performed to treat potentially life-threatening appendicitis.
Researchers at Dundee University studied one of the world's largest digital databases of medical records, the UK General Practice Research Database.
They found that out of more than 76,000 women who had undergone an appendectomy, 39 per cent had a first pregnancy within 10 years.
The rate for twice as many women who had not had the surgery was only 28 per cent. The fertility gap remained after accounting for age, birth control use, number of previous hospitalisations and other factors.
The team said the results now begged further research to determine whether there was 'something unique' about women who require appendectomies.
Mr Sami Shimi, a Dundee surgeon who worked on the study, said: 'We are not saying that women should have an appendicectomy to increase their chances of fertility.
'But the results to do show that women who need an appendectomy should not worry about fertility problems. Fears about infertility after appendicectomy are unfounded.'
Mr Shimi said he launched the study after lots of women expressed fears to him about their chances of having a family after the ops.
He said: 'A lot of patients think they may become infertile after appendicectomy, But when I looked at the reports supporting this, they were really weak. We decided to do a bigger study, using a large patient database.'
Older reports had suggested that the surgical trauma of appendectomy might hurt a woman's fertility by leaving scar tissue sticking to the fallopian tubes, obstructing the egg on its way to the uterus.
The appendix is a muscular worm-like pouch that is attached to the first part of the large intestine. It has no known function in modern humans but it is thought it used to help our ancestors digest tough food like tree bark.