Women who have a cesarean section to deliver their first child are more likely to have fertility issues in the future, a new study has found.
The research was conducted at the Penn State College of Medicine and discovered that those who had a C-section were nine per cent less likely to successfully go on to have another child, compared to those who had delivered vaginally.
The team studied more than 2000 women aged between 18 and 35 over three years after they gave birth to their first child and interviewed them every six months. During each interview, they were quizzed on their sexual habits, and if they were using any contraception.
Almost 600 of the women had a C-section for their first child and they were more likely to be older, overweight, and may have also had fertility testing or treatment to help them fall pregnant.
And 69 percent of those women went on to conceive again, compared to 78 percent of women who delivered vaginally.
Study leader professor Kristen Kjerulff said it was unclear if their results were due to maternal choice or a lower rate of conception.
While co-author Dr Richard Legro, suggested that there may be physiological reasons for the decreased likelihood of conception after a C-section.
"It's possible that pelvic or (fallopian) tubal scarring as a result of being exposed to open air and contaminants may affect subsequent attempts at getting pregnant," he explained.
"It is also possible that scar formation from the surgical wound in the uterus, though not in an area where pregnancies implant, may have lingering effects on the process of implantation."
Both Kjerulff and Legro recommended that women under the age of 35 who have had a C-section and subsequently have trouble conceiving to seek medical help.
"It's important that women who elect to have a C-section know that there is a chance they may have difficulty conceiving in the future," Legro noted.