What is ectopic pregnancy?


Know the basics

What is ectopic pregnancy?

When a women gets pregnant, the process of egg fertilization happens in the fallopian tubes and then move to the uterus, where it would attach itself to the uterus wall and become a fetus. However, there are cases when the fertilized egg refuses to move down the uterus, instead it attaches and grows in the fallopian tube. This condition is called ectopic pregnancy. It is a life-threatening condition and commonly happens within the first few weeks of pregnancy. In most cases, it’s not easy to keep the baby in ectopic pregnancy.

How common is ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy is relatively common. It can happens to one in 50 females in pregnancy. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy?

Common signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Light vaginal bleeding;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Lower abdominal pain;
  • Sharp abdominal cramps;
  • Pain on one side of the body;
  • Dizziness or weakness;
  • Pain in the shoulder, neck, or rectum;
  • Fainting (not common).

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult immediately with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes ectopic pregnancy?

The cause of ectopic pregnancy is still not clearly defined. But some factor can increase the risk of having ectopic pregnancy. Please reading risk factors listed below to have more information.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for ectopic pregnancy?

There are many risk factors for ectopic pregnancy, such as:

  • Using intrauterine device for contraception.
  • History of sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • History of salpingitis, pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Congenital fallopian tube problem.
  • Scarring from endometriosis or history of pelvic surgery.
  • History of ectopic pregnancy.
  • History of unsuccessful tubal ligation (surgical sterilization).
  • Fertility medications or other infertility issue such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
  • Smoking before being pregnancy.
  • Using diethylstilbestrol during your mother’s pregnancy.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

Ectopic pregnancy can be diagnosed by using:

  • A pelvic exam. By using this exam, your doctor will be able to diagnose any mass or growth inside your fallopian tube that might indicate ectopic pregnancy. This test is also used to check the size of your uterus. In normal pregnancy, the size of the uterus will increase where as in ectopic pregnancy, it will not.
  • An ultrasound to view the condition of your uterus and fallopian tubes. This test is the most dependable test to see where the pregnancy is, but it might only be effective in the early stage of pregnancy.
  • Blood test to check your hormone level. In normal pregnancy, the human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, increases every two days. Any abnormality in the hormone level can indicate an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

How is ectopic pregnancy treated?

Ectopic pregnancy can be treated depending on how early the pregnancy is detected and your overall condition:

Fallopian is not ruptured: If ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed early, you can avoid the risk of fallopian tube rupture. In this case, more options for treatment are available:

  • Using medications: to stop the growth of pregnancy tissue, such as  methotrexate when having pregnancy hormone level less than 5000 and having no heart activity of embryo.
  • Doing a laparoscopic surgery to remove the embryo and repair the damage when having bleeding, high HCG levels.
  • Making a small incision on the fallopian tube, which may preserve the health of your fallopian tube.

Fallopian is ruptured: If the fetus grow big enough to rupture the tube, an emergency surgery is required to stop bleeding. If the tubes and ovaries are badly damaged, you might need to have an operation to remove them.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage ectopic pregnancy?

You can’t prevent an ectopic pregnancy, but you may decrease certain risk factors by following lifestyle and home remedies:

  • Having safe sex by limiting number of sexual partners;
  • Using a condom when you have sex to prevent sexually transmitted infections and reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease;
  • Stopping smoking before pregnancy;
  • Consulting your doctor before using any medications during pregnancy;
  • Having your doctor visit as ordered by your doctor.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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