Ectopic Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is an Ectopic pregnancy?

In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilised egg grows outside of the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This can cause severe internal bleeding and be life-threatening if left untreated. Let's discuss everything you need to know about ectopic pregnancy.



Causes of ectopic pregnancy



There isn't a clear idea of what causes ectopic pregnancy, but there are several things that make it more likely to happen. These include:

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Endometriosis
  • History of infertility or fertility treatments
  • Tubal surgery or sterilisation
  • Birth defects of the fallopian tubes
  • age over 35
  • Smoking


Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy


The signs of an ectopic pregnancy can be different for each person, and they can also be confused with signs of other conditions. Some common symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain on one side
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Shoulder pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting


It is important to note that some women with ectopic pregnancies may not experience any symptoms at all. This is why it is essential to get regular prenatal care and check-ups.


Diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy



A combination of physical exams, imaging tests, and blood tests is used to find out if a pregnancy is in the wrong place.

  • The doctor will perform a pelvic exam to check for tenderness, a mass, or a lump in the fallopian tube.
  • An ultrasound is used to check if the gestational sac is present in the uterus or not. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the gestational sac will be visible outside of the uterus.
  • Blood tests will also be done to check for the level of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is usually lower in an ectopic pregnancy than in a normal pregnancy.

Treatment options for ectopic pregnancy



The treatment for ectopic pregnancy depends on the severity of the condition and how far along the pregnancy is. In some cases, the pregnancy may end naturally without any intervention. However, if the condition is severe or if the pregnancy has advanced, treatment options include:


Medications: methotrexate is a medication that stops the growth of the pregnancy and dissolves the existing cells. This medication is often used in the early stages of an ectopic pregnancy.



Surgery: If the pregnancy has ruptured or there is heavy bleeding, surgery may be necessary. In this case, the doctor will remove the pregnancy through laparoscopic surgery, which is less invasive and involves a small incision in the abdomen, or through a laparotomy.


Laparoscopic surgery: This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves making a small incision near the navel and inserting a tiny camera to view the area. The doctor can remove the fertilised egg through the fallopian tube.


In some cases, the doctor may just keep a close eye on the patient and wait for the pregnancy to end on its own. If you think you might have an ectopic pregnancy, you need to see a doctor right away. Delay in treatment can lead to serious complications and may even be life-threatening.


Risks associated with ectopic pregnancy



While this type of pregnancy is rare, it can pose serious risks to the health of the mother if left untreated. Some of them are:

Fallopian tube rupture: The most serious risk of an ectopic pregnancy is that the fallopian tube could break. As the pregnancy grows, the tube can stretch and eventually rupture, causing severe bleeding and requiring emergency surgery. This is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Internal bleeding: An ectopic pregnancy can cause internal bleeding in the abdominal cavity, leading to pain and discomfort in the pelvic region, lightheadedness, and even fainting. If the bleeding is not treated quickly, it can lead to severe anaemia and shock.
Infection: In some cases, an ectopic pregnancy can lead to an infection in the pelvic area. This can cause fever, pain, and discomfort and may require antibiotics to clear up.
Fertility issues: Women who have had an ectopic pregnancy may be at higher risk for future fertility issues. The fallopian tube that was affected by the ectopic pregnancy may be damaged, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to pass through the tube and implant in the uterus. This can lead to infertility or recurrent ectopic pregnancies.

Prevention of Ectopic Pregnancy

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy. However, you can reduce your risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy by:

  • Using birth control: Use contraception, such as condoms, IUDs, or birth control pills, to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
  • Treating sexually transmitted infections: If you have an STI, it is important to seek medical attention and get treated as soon as possible.
  • Quit smoking: smoking increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
  • Early detection: If you suspect that you have an ectopic pregnancy, seek medical attention immediately. Early diagnosis can reduce the risk of complications.


Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Jayanagar. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Can an ectopic pregnancy be carried to term?

No, an ectopic pregnancy cannot be carried to term. The pregnancy must be terminated as soon as possible to prevent life-threatening complications.

2. Can an ectopic pregnancy be detected early?

Yes, with regular prenatal care and check-ups, ectopic pregnancy can be detected early. If you experience any symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

3. Is an ectopic pregnancy a miscarriage?

No, an ectopic pregnancy is not the same as a miscarriage. A miscarriage occurs when a pregnancy ends on its own, usually within the first trimester. An ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

4. Can you still get pregnant after an ectopic pregnancy?

Yes, it is still possible to get pregnant after an ectopic pregnancy. However, it is important to wait until your body has fully healed and to work closely with your doctor to monitor your health and fertility.

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