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Home » What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy : All You Need To Know

What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy : All You Need To Know

what is an ectopic pregnancy

 Overview

In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilised egg implants and start growing outside the uterus i.e. fallopian tube, ovary, abdominal cavity or cervix. Ideally, a fertilised egg should attach to the internal lining of the uterus where embryo gets space to grow and develop.

An ectopic pregnancy which occurs in a fallopian tube is called a tubal pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy can’t proceed normally and need to be diagnosed early and treated as soon as possible. The fertilised egg can’t survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding, if left untreated.

 

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In this article I will explain everything about ectopic pregnancy, its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

 

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Key signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy

 

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Its symptoms typically appear around the 5th or 6th week of pregnancy. However, some women do not experience any symptoms until the ectopic pregnancy has ruptured. You may not notice any symptoms at first but be careful when you notice following signs around fifth week of pregnancy :

  1. Sharp, stabbing pain in the abdomen

  2. Pain in the shoulder or neck

  3. Vaginal bleeding or spotting

  4. Dizziness or lightheadedness

  5. Fainting

  6. Increased heart rate

  7. Nausea and vomiting

  8. Bloating and swelling in the abdomen

  9. Difficulty breathing

  10. Rectal pressure

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, as ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for a successful outcome.

 

Ruptured ectopic pregnancy

ruptured-ectopic-pregnancy

If an ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed in time, it can cause the fallopian tube to tear or burst. This is called a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and results in dangerous internal bleeding resulting a life-threatening event. Most ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed early and treated before rupture occurs. But in some cases, the ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed until after rupture has occurred.

If you think you may have an ectopic pregnancy, it is important to see a doctor right away. Although it is relatively rare but it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms because early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent rupture and save your life.

 

Who are at the high risk of having ectopic pregnancy?

(Causes of ectopic pregnancy)

1. Pelvic inflammatory disease

PID is a serious infection of the female reproductive organs. It can cause scarring and damage to the fallopian tubes, which can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.

2. Congenital abnormalities of the fallopian tubes

It can make it more likely for an ectopic pregnancy to occur.

3. Surgery or injury

Damage to the fallopian tubes due to surgery or an injury can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

4. Smoking

Smoking increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

5. Drinking

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

6. IVF

Use of certain fertility treatments, such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

7. Mensuration or Menopause

Early onset of menstruation or late onset of menopause can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

8. Obesity

In some cases, obesity  can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

9. IUDs

Use of certain types of contraception, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

10. History

Having a previous ectopic pregnancy increases the risk of having another one.

 

Prevention of Ectopic Pregnancy

While there is no sure way to prevent ectopic pregnancy, you can reduce the risk of having it in following ways:

  • Knowing your fertility status and being aware of your risks for ectopic pregnancy
  • Using contraception correctly and consistently
  • Getting early prenatal appointment
  • Watching for the signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy
  • If you are at high risk for ectopic pregnancy, your doctor may also recommend taking progesterone supplements to help prevent implantation outside of the uterus.

Diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies are usually diagnosed when a woman has a positive pregnancy test but does not have a visible foetus on an ultrasound.

It is also discovered during a routine pelvic exam or ultrasound. Your doctor may ask for your symptoms and  do a pelvic exam, blood test, or ultrasound to find out.

In some cases, ectopic pregnancy may not be discovered until the woman starts to experience symptoms. Sometimes, woman came to know when ectopic pregnancy gets ruptured.

So, if you are in doubt and experiencing any of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, do not delay your visit to your doctor.

 

Treatment for Ectopic Pregnancy

treatment-of-ectopic-pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies cannot continue to full term and are usually not viable, so treatment is typically focused on terminating the pregnancy.

Treatment of ectopic pregnancy can be done with medication or surgery. Treatment typically involves surgery to remove the foetus and any damaged tissue. In some cases, which get diagnosed later, it may be possible to deliver the ectopic pregnancy by caesarean section, but this is only done if the ectopic pregnancy is far along and the mother’s health is at risk. With early detection and treatment, most women with ectopic pregnancies go on to have healthy pregnancies in the future.

 

Complications of an ectopic pregnancy

Complications can include:

  1. In an ectopic pregnancy, the foetus can’t survive.
  2. An ectopic pregnancy is not viable, and can result in the death of the mother.
  3. An ectopic pregnancy can cause immense internal bleeding leads to haemorrhage.
  4. An ectopic pregnancy can damage the fallopian tubes and other organs.
  5. An ectopic pregnancy can cause infertility.
  6. An ectopic pregnancy can result in a miscarriage.

The sooner you get treated for an ectopic pregnancy, the better. So if you think you have an ectopic pregnancy, or if you have lots of low belly pain (especially on one side) or abnormal vaginal bleeding, visit your doctor right away.

Miscarriage vs ectopic pregnancy – what’s the difference ?

Ectopic pregnancy can occur when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This can be a very dangerous condition for the mother, as the growing embryo can cause the fallopian tube to rupture. If not caught early around 5-6 weeks, ectopic pregnancies can lead to serious internal bleeding, infection, and even death.

In contrast, a miscarriage happens when a pregnancy is lost before 20 weeks. This is often due to chromosomal abnormalities or other problems with the foetus. While Miscarriage is heartbreaking, it is generally not considered as dangerous as ectopic pregnancy. However, any type of pregnancy loss can be traumatic, and it is important to seek professional help if you are struggling to cope.

How to cope if you have an ectopic pregnancy ?

how-to-cope-with-ectopic-pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy can be a shock, and it’s normal to feel scared, confused, and overwhelmed. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Although, it is relatively rare, but it does happen, and there are plenty of support groups and resources available. If you’re feeling lost or uncertain, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

In the meantime, here are a few tips that may help you cope with an ectopic pregnancy:

  • Talk

to someone who’s been through it. It can be really helpful to talk to someone who’s been through an ectopic pregnancy themselves. They can provide first-hand advice and support.

  • Join a support group

There are many online and in-person support groups for people coping with ectopic pregnancies. This can be a great way to get information and share your experiences with others who understand what you’re going through.

  •  Therapist

If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, seeing a therapist can be incredibly helpful. They can provide guidance and support during this difficult time.

  • Take care of yourself

Be sure to eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest. This will help you physically and mentally.

  • Talk to your partner

Keeping the lines of communication open with your partner is essential during this time. Discuss your feelings, needs, and worries openly and honestly.

  • Talk to your doctor

If you have any questions or concerns about your ectopic pregnancy, be sure to bring them up with your doctor. They can provide information and support throughout your journey.

 

FAQs

 

1. What is ectopic pregnancy?

It is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tubes.

2. What are the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy?

Major symptoms can include abdominal pain, spotting, and vaginal bleeding.

3. How is ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

Typically diagnosed with a pelvic ultrasound.

4. What are the risks of ectopic pregnancy?

Risks of ectopic pregnancy can include rupture of the Fallopian tube, haemorrhage, and infertility.

5. What is the treatment for ectopic pregnancy?

Treatment for ectopic pregnancy typically involves surgery to remove the ectopic tissue.

6. Can ectopic pregnancies be saved?

In some cases, an ectopic pregnancy can be saved if the embryo is located in a place where it can be removed without damaging the Fallopian tube.

7. What are the chances of having another ectopic pregnancy?

The chances of having another ectopic pregnancy vary depending on the individual woman’s risk factors.

8. What are the risks of not treating an ectopic pregnancy?

If an ectopic pregnancy is left untreated, it can result in serious health complications for the mother, including death.

9. How will I know if I have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past?

There is no one definitive way to know if you have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past – you may need to ask your doctor about your medical history.

10. How common is ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies occur in about 2% of pregnancies overall.

11. I think I might be having an ectopic pregnancy – what should I do?

If you think you might be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, you should contact your doctor right away for diagnosis and treatment.

12. What causes ectopic pregnancies?

The cause of ectopic pregnancies is not always known, but some common causes can include damage to the Fallopian tubes, problems with sperm motility, and hormone imbalances.

13. How to know if I have an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy symptoms often include pain and bleeding. Getting checked out by a gynaecologist is the only way to know if you have it. Your doctor may ask for your symptoms and  do a pelvic exam, blood test, or ultrasound to find out.

14. What are the chances of having an ectopic pregnancy after one has been previously diagnosed?

The chances of having another ectopic pregnancy after being previously diagnosed are about 5%.

15. How long will I be in the hospital after surgery for an ectopic pregnancy?

Most women will stay in the hospital for one to two days after surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.

16. Will I be able to have children after I have an ectopic pregnancy?

In many cases, women who have had an ectopic pregnancy can still conceive and carry a baby to term.

17. How common is ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies occur in about 1% of all pregnancies.

 

 

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