Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is a type of abnormal pregnancy that occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself somewhere other than the uterus, such as the fallopian tube. This can happen if the fallopian tube is twisted or narrowed, which creates a block to the uterus.1

About two percent of all pregnancies are ectopic. Ectopic pregnancies prevent the egg from developing normally, because it is not in the proper location for development (the uterus). Unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy is also dangerous to a woman’s health because it could cause the fallopian tube to rupture, which can only be rectified properly through surgery. It can also cause a dangerous amount of blood loss.2

Unfortunately a baby cannot be saved in an ectopic pregnancy. Because the ectopic pregnancy puts the mother’s health at risk and can cause severe blood loss, couples will either have to choose medicine or surgery to end an ectopic pregnancy, depending on how early the pregnancy is detected. Medication can be given to women who are in the early stages of pregnancy (as long as the fallopian tube has not ruptured). Usually, the body will absorb the pregnancy in about four to six weeks and no surgery is therefore needed. However, for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, emergency surgery is required.3

Ectopic pregnancies are often difficult to detect in their early stages. The earliest symptoms tend to resemble those of pregnancy and this is why any pregnant woman should pay a visit to her doctor regularly, who will perform a pelvic exam, ultrasound, or blood test to determine whether the pregnancy is irregular. A doctor can detect an ectopic pregnancy during routine pregnancy testing, but for women who do not know they are pregnant, the signs of an ectopic pregnancy (abnormal vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain ranging from mild to severe, and absent periods) usually become apparent within five to 14 weeks of pregnancy.4

While an ectopic pregnancy could happen to any woman, there are certain health issues that put some women at a higher risk. Women who have abnormal fallopian tubes are at higher risks, and those who have had pelvic inflammatory disease, previous ectopic pregnancies, endometriosis, sexually transmitted infections, prior tubal surgeries, or infertility issues may also be at risk. Cigarette smoking and increased age could also contribute to the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. That is another reason why pre-pregnancy medical check-ups are so important.5

Women who have had one ectopic pregnancy may be at higher risk of having one again in the future, but if there was little or no damage sustained by the fallopian tube, then the risk is minimized. 6

 

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  1. National Institute of Health. (2015 November 19). “Ectopic Pregnancy.” Retrieved November 29, 2015, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000895.htm
  2. Fair Ridge Ob/Gyn Associates. (2015). “Abnormal Pregnancies.” Retrieved November 6, 2015, from http://www.fairridgeobgyn.com/abnormal-pregnancies
  3. NHS UK. (2014 September 9). “Ectopic pregnancy – Treatment.” Retrieved November 29, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Ectopic-pregnancy/Pages/Treatment.aspx
  4. NHS UK; see above.
  5. Fair Ridge Ob/Gyn Associates; see above.
  6. Fair Ridge Ob/Gyn Associates; see above.
2015-11-17T19:39:00+00:00 Pregnancy, Trouble Conceiving|

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