This Is What Getting Your Tonsils—or Appendix—out Does to Your Fertility

Updated: Oct. 20, 2017

Believe it or not, these surgeries may raise your fertility down the road, says science.

FertilityNerthuz/ShutterstockRemember how you envied the girl down the street because after she got her tonsils out, she got to stay home from school and eat all the ice cream she wanted? There was another bizarre side effect that no one knew about until now: New research reveals that getting your tonsils out—or your appendix—increases your odds of getting pregnant down the road. Really. (Here are the symptoms of appendicitis you need to watch out for.)

Some previous studies have hinted that an appendectomy could lower a woman’s fertility; experts worried that a tonsillectomy might have the same effect. So Scottish researchers at the University of Dundee collected 25 years-worth of medical information on more than 500,000 women, and compared a history of one or both of the surgeries with the women’s pregnancies. In their study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the researchers report that women who had had their tonsils out had a pregnancy rate of 53 percent; the rate for women who had an appendectomy was 54 percent. Yet the rate for women who had neither operation was only 44 percent. Even stranger, women who had had both procedures—tonsillectomy plus appendectomy, had a pregnancy rate of 60 percent.

Why women would gain a boost in fertility from these surgeries is puzzling, say the researchers. One theory is that by removing the tonsils and appendix—both of which are prone to inflammation and infections—helped protect the ovaries, uterus, and other important baby-making structures. Whatever the reason, the researchers stress that their results do not suggest that women should undergo a tonsillectomy or appendectomy in order to increase their chances of becoming pregnant. However, they do believe the results should alleviate young women’s concerns that an appendectomy may affect future fertility.

All of that said, tonsils can be a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes not only sore throats, but also bad breath, so if you’ve been plagued by sore throats and halitosis, perhaps you might want to consider initiating a conversation about your tonsils with your doctor. As for your appendix, if it gets infected, it could be life-threatening. So please pay attention if you have any of these serious symptoms of appendicitis.