Pregnancy begins with a fertilized egg. Normally, the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus.
Ectopic pregnancy, also called extrauterine pregnancy, occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside a woman’s uterus, somewhere else in her belly. It can cause life-threatening bleeding and needs medical care right away.
In more than 90% of cases, the egg implants in a fallopian tube. This is called a tubal pregnancy.
Ectopic Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms
Most of the time, this pregnancy happens within the first few weeks of pregnancy. One might not even know that she is pregnant and may not notice any problems.
Early signs include:
• light vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain
• upset stomach and vomiting
• sharp abdominal cramps
• pain on one side of the body
• dizziness or weakness
• pain in the shoulder, neck, or rectum
What are the causes ?
The cause of an ectopic pregnancy is not clear. In some cases, the following conditions have been linked with an ectopic pregnancy:
• inflammation and scarring of the fallopian tubes from a previous medical condition, infection, or surgery
• hormonal factors
• genetic abnormalities
• birth defects
• medical conditions that affect the shape and condition of the fallopian tubes and reproductive organs
Who is at risk ?
Risk factors increase with any of the following:
• maternal age of 35 years or older
• history of pelvic surgery, abdominal surgery, or multiple abortions
• history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
• history of ectopic pregnancy
• history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia
• having structural abnormalities in the fallopian tubes that make it hard for the egg to travel
How can it be treated?
Treatment options for ectopic pregnancy include:
• medication. Several medications maybe prescribed to keep the ectopic mass from bursting.
• surgery. Many surgeons suggest removing the embryo and repairing any internal damage. This procedure is called a laparotomy.
There is no way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy, but here are some ways to decrease your risk:
• limiting the number of sexual partners and using a condom during sex helps to prevent sexually transmitted infections and reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease.
• do not smoke. If you do, quit before trying to get pregnant.
1. Webmd. Ectopic pregnancy. Available at https://webmd.com
2. Mayo Clinic. Ectopic pregnancy. Available at https://mayoclinc.org
3. Marissa S, January 2018. Ectopic pregnancy. Available at https://healthline.com
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