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Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic means “out of place”. An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg has been implanted outside of the uterus. These are also sometimes referred to as “tubal pregnancies” The egg can also implant in the ovary, abdomen or the cervix however the most common place for implantation is within the fallopian tube.

Not space for baby to grow

These areas don’t have the space for the baby to grow – a classic ectopic pregnancy will only last for a few weeks before the egg has to be removed or removes itself causing severe bleeding.

What are signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies are very difficult to diagnose. Here are the main symptoms

  • Fainting
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Positive pregnancy test
  • An overdue period
  • Previous Ectopic Pregnancies
  • Previous terminations where there has been infection afterwards

At first an Ectopic pregnancy develops just as a normal pregnancy and has similar symptoms.

How is an Ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

There are several ways in which an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed. These include where a woman without warning collapses and has severe bleeding. A pregnancy test is carried out and is positive. She is then taken to hospital where a ruptured ectopic is found to bleed into the abdomen - where there has been a precious history of ectopic pregnancies or has been subject to assisted conception such as IVF. Finally where there is a positive pregnancy test and a positive period and some bleeding. There may also be light pain around the abdomen area.

Urine test can diagnose a Ectopic pregnancy.

A urine test can be performed, this is not 100% in all case so a blood test can be performed which should be 100% accurate. These tests are quick which is essential for treating an ectopic pregnancy.

It is difficult for a doctor to see a pregnancy that is less than 6 weeks so the women should be asked to come back every few days to check.

Ultrasound Ectopic pregnancy

An ultrasound can also be performed in females whose pregnancies are approaching the five week mark. An ultrasound will show if the pregnancy is developing in the womb or not. If the pregnancy test is positive but the ultrasound is not showing any sign of a foetus in the womb than it can be almost guaranteed that the female has an ectopic pregnancy.

How are Ectopic pregnancies treated?

There are several different types of treatment

  • Surgery
  • Drugs

Surgery Ectopic pregnancy

There are two types of surgery which is possible. The least invasive is where a small incision is made to the top of the pubic hairline and the affected tube is removed. Keyhole surgery can also be performed where either the egg or tube is removed.

Drug ‘methotrexate’  Ectopic pregnancy

The drug ‘methotrexate’ can also be given however only a small minority of pregnancies can be treated in this way. This drug is given by injection and works by shrinking the pregnancy.

As each ectopic pregnancy is different, your paeditrician will determine which course of treatment is correct for you.

Can I get pregnant again after an ectopic pregnancy?

This depends on what type of removal was given to your previous ectopic pregnancy.

If only one fallopian tube was removed and the female is otherwise fit and healthy then there is no reason not to have a normal pregnancy next time round.

If however the tube was removed and there is previous scarring in the other tube then it may mean that the only option open for a future pregnancy is to go down the assisted conception route ie IVF.

Go to pregnancy tips main page

Related links

Pregnancy after Miscarriage
Pregnancy Spotting
Chemical Pregnancy
Brown Discharge in Early Pregnancy?
Symptoms of pregnancy in the first week

  

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