Ectopic Pregnancy

Feb 25, 2011 3 Comments by
What is it?
An ectopic pregnancy (also known as a tubal pregnancy) is one that implants outside the uterus, most commonly in a fallopian tube, usually because something (such as scarring in the fallopian tube) obstructs or slows the movement of the fertilized egg into the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy can also occur in the cervix, on the ovary, or in the abdomen. Unfortunately, there is no way for an ectopic pregnancy to continue normally.
Ultrasound can detect an ectopic pregnancy, often as early as five weeks. But without early diagnosis and treatment of an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg might continue to grow in the fallopian tube, leading to a rupture of the tube. If the tube bursts, its ability in the future to carry a fertilized egg to the uterus is destroyed, and if the rupture is not cared for, it can result in severe, even life-threatening, internal bleeding and shock. Luckily, quick treatment (usually surgery or medication) can help avoid such a rupture and removes most of the risk for the mother while greatly improving the chances of preserving her fertility.
How common is it?
About 2 percent of all pregnancies are ectopic. Women at risk of having an ectopic pregnancy include those with a history of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, a prior ectopic pregnancy, or tubal surgery (conceiving after getting your tubes tied carries a 60 percent chance of an ectopic pregnancy). Also included in the at-risk group are those who became pregnant while using progesterone-only birth control pills; women who became pregnant with an IUD in place (though with today’s newer IUDs, especially the hormonal kinds, the chance of an ectopic pregnancy is significantly lower); women with STDs; and women who smoke.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Early symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy includes:
1. Sharp, crampy pain with tenderness, usually in the lower abdomen (it often begins as a dull ache that progresses to spasms and cramps); pain may worsen on straining of bowels,coughing, or moving
2. Abnormal bleeding (brown spotting or light bleeding that precedes the pain)
If the ectopic pregnancy goes unnoticed and your fallopian tube ruptures, you may experience:
3. Nausea and vomiting
4. Weakness
5. Dizziness and/or fainting
6. Severe sharp abdominal pain
7. Rectal pressure
8. Shoulder pain (due to blood accumulating under the diaphragm)
9. Heavier vaginal bleeding

What can you and your practitioner do?
Occasional cramping and even slight spotting early in pregnancy is not cause for alarm, but do let your practitioner know if you experience any type of pain, spotting, or bleeding. Call right away if youexperience sharp, crampy pain in the lower abdomen, heavy bleeding, or any of the other symptoms of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy just listed. If it is determined that you have an ectopic pregnancy (usually diagnosed through ultrasound and blood tests), there is, unfortunately, no way to save the pregnancy. You’ll most likely have to undergo surgery (laparoscopically) to remove the tubal pregnancy or be given drugs (methotrexate), which will end the abnormally occurring pregnancy. In some cases, it can be determined that the ectopic pregnancy is no longer developing and can be expected to disappear over time on its own, which would also eliminate the need for surgery.
Because residual material from a pregnancy left in the tube could damage it, a follow-up test of hCG levels is performed to be sure the entire tubal pregnancy was removed or has reabsorbed.
Can it be prevented?
Getting treated for sexually transmitted disease (STDs), and the prevention of STDs (through the practice of safe sex) can help reduce the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, as can quitting smoking.

Managing A Complicated Pregnancy, Staying Healthy

3 Responses to “Ectopic Pregnancy”

  1. Joana says:

    Pregnancy is a beautiful thing!!!

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