ectopic pregnancy
Pregnancy and Health

Ectopic Pregnancy | Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

What is Ectopic Pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus mostly in the fallopian tube. If the egg is implanted in fallopian tube then it is also called as tubal pregnancy. The fallopian tubes cannot serve as uterus to the fertilized egg because they cannot hold or stretch as uterus do when the baby grows inside the mother’s womb. The chances of ectopic pregnancy are 1 out of 50 pregnancies.

Signs and Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

In most cases it occurs in the first few weeks of pregnancy and you may not notice any problem or complication. Early signs of ectopic pregnancy are:

  • Sharp abdominal cramps or pain
  • Faintness, dizziness or weakness
  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Pain on one side of the body,
  • Pelvic pain
  • Vomiting and an upset stomach,
  • Rectal pressure
  • Pain in your shoulder or neck

Emergency symptoms in which medical help is required

  • Extreme pain with or without vaginal bleeding,
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding and feeling lightheadedness, shoulder pain and fainting.

Dangers of Ectopic Pregnancy

It can be quite dangerous for you if not diagnosed. The fallopian tube can be ruptured and heavy bleeding can occur. If the fallopian tube is ruptured and damaged then it has to be removed. It can also be life threatening to the mother.

Possible Causes 

  • If you had an infection or inflammation of fallopian tubes which caused them to be partially or completely blocked.
  • A scar tissue from previous surgical procedure on the tube also impede the movement of the egg to uterus.
  • Birth defect or abnormal growths can cause abnormality in the shape of the tubes.
  • If you previously had surgery in pelvic area or on tubes.

Who is at risk of having Ectopic Pregnancy?

  • If the mother’s age is between 35-44 years
  • Had pelvic or abdominal surgery in past
  • Medical history of ectopic pregnancy
  • Several induced abortions before
  • If birth control IUD is in place or a tube is placed before conceiving
  • History of endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID)
  • If a woman is undergoing fertility treatments or using fertility medication
  • Smoking
  • Have sexually transmitted infection

Diagnosis

It can be diagnosed with an ultrasound, pelvic exam and hcG test. Your doctor will use these 3 methods to diagnose if your pregnancy is ectopic. Ultrasound can be trans-vaginal in which a wand or stick is inserted into your vagina to see if there is a gestational sac in uterus. If this is not the case then your doctor will examine the tubes. Pelvic exam and hcG test will also be carried out. If your hcG levels are not growing then it can be an ectopic pregnancy.

Treatment

As fertilized egg cannot survive anywhere else then uterus so it has to be removed by your doctor so your life is not threatened. It can be done with medication or surgery both.

Medication

In case when your pregnancy is not for long and your fallopian tubes are not ruptured then medication can be used to stop the cell from growing. Methotrexate is used to stop the cells from growing.

Surgery

If the Fallopian tube is ruptured then a surgery is required. The most common is laparoscopy. In order to remove ectopic pregnancy your doctor will make small cuts on your belly and insert the thin and flexible tube the laparoscope. If your Fallopian tube is damaged then it also have to be removed.

Another surgery is laparotomy. If you are experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding then doctor will go laparotomy in which the cut in your belly will be large.

Conceiving after Ectopic Pregnancy

It can be difficult for you to have a normal pregnancy afterwards especially when your Fallopian tube is removed. Then you should consult a fertility specialist about it. The chances to pregnancy can get low.

Sources

Mayo Clinic. “Ectopic pregnancy.”

National Health Service (U.K.): “Ectopic pregnancy.”

American Society of Reproductive Medicine: “Ectopic Pregnancy.”

WebMd: “Ectopic Pregnancy.”

Healthline: “Ectopic Pregnancy.”

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