How can ectopic pregnancy affect maternal health?

Ectopic pregnancy is a severe medical condition in which a fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus. It is a potentially life-threatening complication that affects one in eighty pregnancies. With early diagnosis, however, the treatments available can help preserve fertility and save lives.

What are the different types of ectopic pregnancies?

There are three main types of ectopic pregnancy: tubal, ovarian, and cervical.

  • Tubal ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube.
  • Ovarian ectopic pregnancies happen when a fertilized egg embeds itself in an ovary.
  • Cervical ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants itself in the cervix. In rare cases, an ectopic pregnancy may implant in other locations, such as the abdomen.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

  • It is caused by an abnormally shaped uterus, any blockage or disruption to the usual path, or a damaged fallopian tube, which can be due to infection.
  • Other causes include smoking and the use of fertility drugs.
  • Complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease may also contribute to ectopic pregnancies.

What are the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

  • Ectopic pregnancy symptoms include abdominal pain, shoulder pain, light vaginal bleeding, dizziness or fainting, low blood pressure, and an increased heart rate.
  • Women may also experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal or pelvic tenderness, and pain after intercourse or a pelvic exam.
  • Rarely, ectopic pregnancies can cause severe abdominal pain that can be mistaken for appendicitis or other medical conditions.

When should one see a doctor for an ectopic pregnancy?

If a woman suspects pregnancy and experiences any symptoms associated with an ectopic pregnancy, she should visit a doctor. Early diagnosis is critical to ensuring that appropriate treatment can be offered promptly.

What are the treatment options for ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy treatment options include expectant management, medical treatment with methotrexate, and surgical removal of the pregnancy.

  • Expectant management involves monitoring the situation to see if it resolves independently.
  • Medical treatment with methotrexate is usually used for pregnancies in the early stages, where it can be injected into a muscle or vein to stop cell growth.
  • For pregnancies that are more advanced or if methotrexate has failed, surgical removal may be necessary. It may involve removing the fallopian tube or, in some cases, removing part of the tube and leaving some intact. In addition, nearby organs may need to be removed if they have been damaged due to the ectopic pregnancy.
  • In rare circumstances, a complete hysterectomy may be required.

The patient's health and individual situation will be considered when determining the best course of action for them.

What are the risk factors for ectopic pregnancy?

  • Risk factors include a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, previous ectopic pregnancies, intrauterine device use, and congenital abnormalities within the reproductive organs.
  • The use of fertility treatments may increase the chances of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Smoking can increase the risk, as can having had abdominal or pelvic surgery in the past.
  • Women with weakened immunity caused by certain medical conditions are also at greater risk.

How can one prevent ectopic pregnancy?

The best way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy is to use effective contraception. This includes barrier methods such as condoms, diaphragms, and caps; hormonal methods such as the contraceptive pill and implant; and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as injections, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and intrauterine systems (IUS). It is essential to use a method that suits the individual.


Ectopic pregnancy is a severe health condition with dangerous implications for the mother and child. It is essential to recognize the signs of ectopic pregnancy and seek immediate medical attention if you suspect it may affect you. Early diagnosis is vital in helping a woman make informed decisions about her care and ensure she has the best chance at having a successful outcome.

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

1. Can sexually transmitted infections (STIs) cause ectopic pregnancy?

STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can lead to an ectopic pregnancy due to scarring or blockages in the fallopian tubes.

2. How is an ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

An ectopic pregnancy may be diagnosed through urine tests, blood tests measuring hCG levels, transvaginal ultrasound scans to detect a gestational sac outside the uterus, and laparoscopy.

3. What age group is affected by ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy is most common in women between 25 and 44 years old.

4. Can ectopic pregnancy be dangerous if left untreated?

If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening due to internal bleeding. It can also cause damage to the reproductive organs and even death.

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