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What You Should Know About An Ectopic Pregnancy

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Ectopic pregnancy or tubal pregnancies happen when the fertilised egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus. Most cases occur in the fallopian tube.


The fallopian tubes are not designed to hold a growing embryo. Thus, the fertilized egg in a tubal pregnancy cannot develop properly. An ectopic pregnancy happens in 1 out of 50 pregnancies.

 The following are causes of ectopic pregnancy:

What You Should Know About An Ectopic Pregnancy
Photo: Pregnancy


1. An infection or inflammation of the fallopian tube can cause it to become partially or entirely blocked.


2. Scar tissue from a previous infection or a surgical procedure on the tube may also impede the egg’s movement.


3. Previous surgery in the pelvic area or on the tubes can cause adhesions.


4. Abnormal growths or a birth defect can result in an abnormality in the tube’s shape.

Who is at risk for having an ectopic pregnancy?

  • Maternal age of 35-44 years
  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Previous pelvic or abdominal surgery
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Several induced abortions
  • Conceiving after having a tubal ligation or while an IUD is in place
  • Smoking
  • Endometriosis
  • Undergoing fertility treatments or are using fertility medications
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What are the symptoms?

1. Sharp or stabbing pain that may come and go and vary in intensity. (The pain may be in the pelvis, abdomen, or even the shoulder and neck due to blood from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy gathering up under the diaphragm).


2. V*ginal bleeding, heavier or lighter than your normal period.


3. Gastrointestinal symptoms.


4. Weakness, dizziness, or fainting.


To diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, a  doctor will first perform a pelvic exam to locate pain, tenderness, or a mass in the abdomen.


The examination is to locate pain, tenderness, or a mass in the abdomen. Your physician will also use an ultrasound to determine whether the uterus contains a developing fetus.


What You Should Know About An Ectopic Pregnancy
Photo: Houston Defender


Your doctor may also test your progesterone levels as low levels could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. In addition, your physician may do a culdocentesis, which is a procedure that involves inserting a needle into the very top of the v*gina, behind the uterus and in front of the rectum.


The presence of blood in this area may indicate bleeding from a ruptured fallopian tube.

An ectopic pregnancy can be treated in any of the following ways:

— Doctors may administer Methotrexate, which allows the body to absorb the pregnancy tissue and may save the fallopian tube, depending on how far the pregnancy has progressed.


— If the tube has become stretched or has ruptured and started bleeding, part or all of it may have to be removed. In this case, bleeding needs to be stopped promptly, and emergency surgery is necessary.


— Surgeons may perform Laparoscopic surgery under general anaesthesia. This procedure involves a surgeon using a laparoscope to remove the ectopic pregnancy and repair or remove the affected fallopian tube.


— If the ectopic pregnancy cannot be removed through a laparoscopically, another surgical procedure called a laparotomy may be done.


It is important to contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing sharp pain that lasts more than a few minutes or if you have bleeding.


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