Ectopic Pregnancy

In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg has implanted outside the uterus. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube, and are thus sometimes called tubal pregnancies. The fallopian tubes are not designed to hold a growing embryo; the fertilized egg in a tubal pregnancy cannot develop normally and must be treated. An ectopic pregnancy happens in 1 out of 60 pregnancies.

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms

  • Sharp or stabbing pain that may come and go and vary in intensity. The pain may be in the pelvis, abdomen or even the shoulder and neck (due to blood from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy gathering up under the diaphragm).
  • Vaginal bleeding, heavier or lighter than your normal period
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

Ectopic Pregnancy Risk Factors

An ectopic pregnancy cannot be carried to term. The cells must be removed to protect the mother’s health. You will need emergency medical help if the area of the ectopic pregnancy breaks open (ruptures). Rupture can lead to shock, an emergency condition. Treatment for shock may include:

  • Blood transfusion
  • Fluids given through a vein
  • Keeping warm
  • Oxygen
  • Raising the legs

If there is a rupture, surgery (laparotomy) is done to stop blood loss. This surgery is also done to:

  • Confirm an ectopic pregnancy
  • Remove the abnormal pregnancy
  • Repair any tissue damage

In some cases, the doctor may have to remove the fallopian tube.

Ectopic Pregnancies and the Future

The chances of having a successful pregnancy after an ectopic pregnancy may be lower than normal, but this will depend on why the pregnancy was ectopic and your medical history. If the fallopian tubes have been left in place, you have approximately a 60% chance of having a successful pregnancy in the future.

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