Overview of an Ectopic Pregnancy

A normal pregnancy usually takes place in the uterus after the fertilized egg travels and attaches to the uterine lining through the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy on the other hand, is whereby a fertilized egg attaches to the cervix, abdominal cavity or the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. 

What Are The Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy

It is not clear what causes an ectopic pregnancy but the following are some common links :

  • A damaged fallopian can prevent a fertilized egg from getting to the uterus, thus making the egg to travel elsewhere in the abdomen.
  • Birth defects or abnormal growth can result to a badly shaped fallopian tube, whereby the egg will have difficulties to travel through
  • Surgery on the fallopian tube or the pelvic area
  • Inflammation on the pelvic area can cause blockage
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI)
  • Abuse of fertility drugs

Main Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy

In the beginning most women show no signs of an ectopic pregnancy. An early scan or severe problems that may develop later on are what can indicate the presence of an ectopic pregnancy. Consider the following: 

  • Vaginal bleeding – bleeding usually becomes different from the normal period. It may start and stop abruptly and other times it can have a dark brown color and watery thus mistaking it for a regular period.
  • Tummy cramps – mostly, you may experience pain on one side of the lower part of the tummy. The pain may persist with time or it can be an on and off thing.
  • Uncomfortable toilet visits – sometimes you may diarrhea or experience pain when having a pee or poo.

Other symptoms may include :

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sickly
  • Looking pale
  • Rectal rupture
  • Sharp pains on the shoulder, pelvis or neck

How an Ectopic Pregnancy can be Diagnosed

It is advisable to seek medical help from a doctor once you suspect that you could be having an ectopic pregnancy. 

  • Physical examination cannot diagnose an ectopic pregnancy. However the doctor can perform a physical exam to rule out other conditions
  • A transvaginal ultrasound can be performed by inserting an instrument into the vagina to show the presence of a gestational sac in the uterus.
  • A blood test can also be done to show levels of progesterone and HCG. If these hormones decrease then it is a clear indication that the gestational sac is not present.

How Can One Treat an Ectopic Pregnancy

Treating an ectopic pregnancy varies, depending on its development and location.

  • Medication – the doctor can prescribe medication such as methotrexate, to prevent the ectopic mass from rupturing.
  • Surgery – surgery can be recommended to remove the embryo and also repair any damages caused internally.
  • Home care – while at home, you may be advised to keep the incisions dry and clean. Also, check them every day for any signs of infection such as redness, swelling or bleeding.

Once you have recovered fully, you may try for another normal pregnancy ,may hopefully be a healthy one.



#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: healthline, webmd, americanpregnancy, healthline, healthline

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