Also called tubal pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg is implanted outside the womb. It can be implanted in several places like the ovary, abdomen and cervix. The most common place of implantation is within the fallopian tube, which is the reason it is sometimes called tubal pregnancy. All these places don't provide enough space or nutrition for the growing fetus. It can cause severe bleeding, endangering the life of the mother. In ectopic pregnancy, live birth is not developed. The developing cells should be removed in order not to endanger the mother's life.
Signs and Symptoms
It is quite difficult to diagnose ectopic pregnancy because its symptoms are similar to those of normal pregnancy during the early stage. These symptoms include missed menstrual periods, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, and frequent urination. One of the first warning signs of ectopic pregnancy is pain and bleeding in the vagina. It's also possible to feel pain in the pelvis, abdomen and neck. Other symptoms of this condition include vaginal spotting, dizziness, fainting (due to blood loss), low blood pressure, and lower back pain.
The main reason ectopic pregnancy occurs is when the fertilized egg is unable to work its way through the fallopian tube into the uterus. One possible cause of that is infection or inflammation of the fallopian tube that causes partial or full blockage. Another possible root is a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is brought about by gonorrhea or chlamydia, which are sexually transmitted diseases.
Who Are At Risk
Any woman can have this kind of pregnancy. However, risk increases in women who are over 35 years old. Those who have had previous ectopic pregnancy, infertility problems, and fallopian tube surgery are at risk. Women who have taken medications to stimulate ovulation as well as birth control pills are also prone. If you get pregnant while you're on a pill, you'll have higher chances of having ectopic pregnancy. On top of these, smoking and sexual diseases also increase the risk of this condition.
Treatment varies depending on the medical stability of the woman as well as the size and location of pregnancy.
Most early cases are treated with the injection called methotrexate, which stops the growth of the embryo to prevent endangering the mother's life.
For later stages, it may require surgery so that the abnormal pregnancy may be removed safely.
It's also possible to remove the pregnancy using laparoscopy. This is a less invasive surgical method that involves small incisions in the lower abdomen so that a tiny video camera can go inside the body while instruments remove the pregnancy.
Whatever method of treatment that your doctor chooses to employ, he/she will need to see you regularly afterwards to help ensure that your hCG levels return to zero. This can take up to several weeks.
Women who have had ectopic pregnancies in the past have difficulty becoming pregnant again. But it doesn't mean that it's impossible to have a normal pregnancy in the future.