Ectopic Pregnancy

A normal pregnancy begins when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy happens when the fertilized egg gets implanted and starts growing outside the primary cavity of the uterus. 

An ectopic pregnancy usually occurs in the fallopian tube. The fallopian tube helps carry the eggs from your ovaries to the uterus. When the fertilized egg gets attached inside the fallopian tube, such an ectopic pregnancy is called a tubal pregnancy. 

Sometimes, an ectopic pregnancy may also occur in other areas like the ovaries, cervix (the lower end of the uterus) or even inside the abdominal cavity. An ectopic pregnancy cannot proceed to a full term like a normal pregnancy. The fertilized egg in any other body part apart from the uterus cannot survive and may cause excessive bleeding if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Signs of Ectopic Pregnancy

Early ectopic pregnancy symptoms usually include abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. If you notice either of these signs of ectopic pregnancy, it is best to schedule an appointment with your gynaecologist, who can check and confirm. Your doctor may ask you to do a blood test and ultrasound in addition to a pelvic examination.

An ectopic pregnancy may seem like a normal pregnancy in the beginning and has the usual pregnancy symptoms like a missed period, fatigue, breast tenderness, and nausea. However, if you notice any ectopic pregnancy signs, call your doctor immediately to avoid further complications.

Some early signs of ectopic pregnancy are:

  • severe lower abdominal pain, especially on one side
  • vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • shoulder pain
  • low blood pressure
  • feeling extremely weak, light-headed, or nauseated

If you have unbearable pain or bleeding, go to the emergency room immediately. The earlier an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed and treated, the safer you’ll be.

What is the Treatment for an Ectopic Pregnancy?

There are several ways that an ectopic pregnancy can be treated. A fertilized egg cannot develop into a healthy foetus outside the uterus. In such a pregnancy, the ectopic tissue needs to be removed to avert life-threatening complications. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and how early the ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed, the ectopic tissue removal may be done using medicines, laparoscopic surgery or abdominal surgery.

Medication for Ectopic Pregnancy

An early ectopic pregnancy without excessive bleeding is usually treated with a medicine called methotrexate. This medication stops cell growth and eliminates the existing cells. Methotrexate is given in the form of an injection by your doctor after they have confirmed the ectopic pregnancy with the help of blood, urine and ultrasound reports. After giving the injection, your doctor will ask you to get an HCG test (HCG is a hormone secreted in your body during pregnancy). This test will determine how well the treatment is working, and if you need more medication to successfully eliminate the ectopic tissue. 

Laparoscopic procedures

In a laparoscopic procedure, a small incision is made in the abdomen or near the navel. Your doctor will use a thin tube with a camera and light to view the area. There are two types of laparoscopic procedures: one in which the ectopic pregnancy is removed and the fallopian tube is left to heal on its own, and second, in which the ectopic pregnancy and the fallopian tube both are removed. The procedure that your doctor may carry out depends on the amount of bleeding, injury and whether the tube is intact or ruptured. 

Emergency Ectopic Pregnancy Surgery

In case, your ectopic pregnancy causes heavy bleeding, you might need emergency surgery. This can be done through an abdominal incision or via a laparoscope. 

Prevention of Ectopic Pregnancy 

There is no certain way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy, however, there are some ways in which you can decrease the risk.

  • Limit the number of sexual partners and use a condom during sex. It helps to prevent sexually transmitted infections and drastically reduces the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea can cause inflammation in the fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs, thereby increasing your risk of tubal pregnancy.
  • Quit smoking if you are trying to conceive. Smoking cigarettes, while you are trying to get pregnant, can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. 

Getting pregnant again after an Ectopic Pregnancy

Most women who have suffered an ectopic pregnancy can have successful future pregnancies. There is a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy again, but it is not impossible to have a healthy and normal pregnancy that goes full term. Talk to your doctor and understand the causes of your ectopic pregnancy and if there are any future risks. Before trying to get pregnant again, it is advisable to wait at least three months after terminating your ectopic pregnancy. This time allows your fallopian tube to heal and decreases the risk of another ectopic pregnancy. 

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, DELHI-NCR - Chirag Enclave. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

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