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Ectopic pregnancy

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

The normal pregnancy begins with the process of fertilization. After the fertilization, the fertilized egg travels to the uterus to attach itself to the lining of the uterus. The ectopic pregnancy is the case when the fertilized egg doesn’t attach to the uterus, it may attach to the fallopian tube, cervix, or abdominal cavity instead.

Most often an ectopic pregnancy occurs in a fallopian tube. The type of ectopic pregnancy in a fallopian tube is called a tubal pregnancy.

An untreated ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency. An ectopic pregnancy can lead to life-threatening bleeding.

Causes of ectopic pregnancy

The cause of the ectopic pregnancy is not always clear. In some cases of an ectopic pregnancy, such conditions that have been linking to an ectopic pregnancy includes:

  • Inflammation and scarring of the fallopian tubes from the previous history of a medical condition such as infection, or surgery
  • Hormonal factors
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Birth defects
  • Medical conditions related to the shape and condition of the fallopian tubes and reproductive organs.

Risk factor for an ectopic pregnancy

All women who are sexually active are at some risk for an ectopic pregnancy. Risk factor for an ectopic pregnancy increases with the increase of the following:

  • Maternal age of 35 years or older
  • History of multiple abortions
  • History of pelvic surgery
  • History of abdominal surgery
  • History of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)
  • History of endometriosis
  • Conception occurred intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) or tubal ligation
  • Conception aided by fertility procedures or drugs
  • Smoking
  • History of ectopic pregnancy
  • History of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea.
  • Structural abnormalities of the fallopian tubes make it hard for eggs to travel.

What are the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

Missed period, nausea and breast tenderness is a sign of both ectopic and uterine pregnancy.

The pregnancy test will be positive for an ectopic pregnancy but an ectopic pregnancy cannot continue as a normal pregnancy.

The signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Heavy bleeding inside the abdomen and pelvis
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Rectal pressure
  • Fainting and dizziness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy

After missing the periods take a pregnancy test, and if it is positive you can visit your doctor. Your doctor will advise you of a transvaginal scan (TVS). A TVS in an ultrasound procedure used to detect the location of the pregnancy. In this procedure, a TVS probe is inserted into your vagina to see the gestational sac.

Treatment for an ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies are not safe for the mother. The embryo doesn’t develop as well. It is very important to remove the embryo as soon as possible for the mother’s immediate health and long-term fertility.

The treatment options for ectopic pregnancy include:

Medication- It depends on your doctor whether require medication or not but in case of early ectopic pregnancy without unstable bleeding is most often treated with medication. The medication stops the cell growth and dissolves the existing cells. This medicine is given by injection.

Laparoscopic procedure – In this procedure a small incision is made in the abdomen, near or in the navel. After that, your doctor puts a thin tube equipped with a camera lens and light (laparoscope) to view the tubal area.

Salpingostomy – In this procedure, the ectopic pregnancy is removed and the tube heals on its own. Both the ectopic pregnancy and the tube is removed in a salpingostomy.

Which treatment you have depends on the amount of bleeding and damage and whether the tube has ruptured. It also depends on whether your other fallopian tube is normal or damage.

Emergency surgery

If heavy bleeding is caused by ectopic pregnancy, you might need emergency surgery. This can be done by a laparoscopy or through an abdominal incision (laparotomy). In some cases, the fallopian tube is not removed. However, a ruptured tube must be removed.