Normal pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg doesn’t implant into the wall of the uterus, but rather in other area of the body such as the abdominal cavity, fallopian tube or cervix. This type of pregnancy is also known as tubal pregnancy. Unfortunately, the pregnancy can’t proceed normally because the fertilized egg would not survive. Hence, it has to be removed by medical or surgical means
An untreated ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency. Prompt treatment reduces the risk of complications from ectopic pregnancy. Early treatment increases the chances of subsequent healthy pregnancies, and help reduce the risk of future health complications.
- History of previous ectopic pregnancy
- History of previous abdominal pelvic surgeries
- Inflammation or infection caused by STDs and STIs
- Conception aided by Fertility treatments. Such as IVF
- History of tubal surgery
- Choice of birth control
- maternal age of 35 years or older
Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy
Specific symptoms are dependent on the location of the pregnancy. Common symptoms include:
- Light vaginal bleeding
- Sharp pelvic pain
- Nausea and breast soreness (also common in uterine pregnancies)
- Waves of pain in the shoulder and neck area
- Frequent urge to have a bowel movement
- Severe pain on one side of the abdomen
- Lightheadedness or fainting
Ectopic pregnancies can be detected as early as 6 to 8 weeks of pregnancy. However, a medical provider might do some investigations to rule it out. Such as:
- Transvaginal ultrasound
- Blood test to determine the levels of hCG and progesterone. If pregnancy hormones stay at a particular level or begins to decrease and there’s no sign of gestational sack from ultrasound, such pregnancy may be ectopic.
Treating ectopic pregnancy
Early detection is necessary for survival and fertility of the mother. Treatment options may vary depending on the duration of the pregnancy and location.
- Medication: Methotrexate is a common drug of choice in the treatment of ectopic pregnancy. It works by inhibiting the growth and division of cells. Common side-effects of the drug include vaginal bleeding, cramping, and passing of tissue. Regular blood test may be necessary to check the effectiveness of the drug. You might not be able to conceive for some months after using the drug.
- Surgery: It is usually done as laparotomy. The procedure can be a risk factor to having future ectopic pregnancies. There might be some light bleeding for up to six weeks post-surgery.
- Other self-care measures. Such as:
- Stay away from lifting heavy objects
- Consume plenty fluids to prevent constipation
- Rest from sexual activities and tampon use
- Always notify your doctor if pain increases or you feel something is out of the ordinary.