From conception to delivery, pregnancy consists of a few steps. One of these steps is when a fertilized egg travels to the uterus to attach itself to it. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg does not attach to the uterus. Instead, it may stick to the fallopian tube, abdominal cavity, or cervix.
While a pregnancy test can reveal that a woman is pregnant, a fertilized egg cannot grow properly anywhere outside the womb. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), ectopic pregnancy occurs in about one in 50 (20 per 1,000) pregnancies.
Untreated ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency. Prompt treatment reduces the risk of complications from an ectopic pregnancy, increases your chances of a healthy pregnancy in future, and reduces future health problems.
What Causes An Ectopic Pregnancy?
The cause of an ectopic pregnancy are not always clear. In some cases, the following conditions have been linked to ectopic pregnancy:
- inflammation and cut of the fallopian tubes from a previous state of treatment, infection, or surgery
- hormonal features
- genetic abnormalities
- birth defects
- health conditions affecting the structure and condition of the bone marrow and reproductive organs
Your doctor can give you more information about your condition.
Who Is At Risk Of An Ectopic Pregnancy?
All women who have sex are at risk for an ectopic pregnancy. The risks increase with any of the following:
- maternal age of 35 years or older
- history of hip surgery, abdominal surgery, or multiple abortions
- past record of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- history of endometriosis
- pregnancy occurs despite tubal ligation or intrauterine device (IUD)
- pregnancy assisted by birth control pills or procedures
- history of ectopic pregnancy
- history of sexually transmitted infections (STDs), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia
- having an irregular shape in the fallopian tubes making it difficult for the egg to move
If you have any of the above risk factors, talk to your doctor. You can work with your doctor or obstetrician to reduce the risk of future ectopic pregnancies.
What Are The Symptoms of An Ectopic Pregnancy?
Nausea and chest pain are common symptoms in both ectopic and uterine pregnancies. The following symptoms are very common in an ectopic pregnancy and may indicate a medical emergency:
- sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, waist, shoulder, or neck
- severe pain that occurs on one side of the abdomen
- light bleeding in large abdominal
- dizziness or fainting
- spinal pressure
You should consult your doctor or seek treatment immediately if you know you are pregnant and have these symptoms.
Diagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancy:
If you suspect you may have an ectopic pregnancy, see your doctor immediately.
Ectopic pregnancy cannot be detected by physical examination. However, your doctor may still do one to exclude other features.
Another diagnostic step is external ultrasound.
This involves inserting a special wand-like device into your vagina so that your doctor can determine if the pregnancy bag is in the uterus.
Your doctor may also use blood tests to determine your progesterone levels.
These are hormones that are present during pregnancy. If these hormone levels begin to drop or remain the same within a few days and the pregnancy bag is not under ultrasound, the pregnancy may be ectopic.
If you have severe symptoms, such as severe pain or bleeding, you may not have enough time to complete all of these steps.
The fallopian tube can rupture in severe cases, causing severe internal bleeding. Your doctor will then perform emergency surgery to provide immediate medical attention.
Treatment of ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy is not safe for the mother.
Also, the embryo will not develop over time. It is necessary to remove the foetus as soon as possible so that the mother’s life isn’t threatened. Treatment options vary depending on the location of the ectopic pregnancy and its development.
Your doctor may decide that complications are not immediately possible. In this case, your doctor may prescribe several drugs that can prevent ectopic mass from developing. According to the AAFP, one common drug for this is methotrexate (Rheumatrex).
Methotrexate is a drug that inhibits the growth of rapidly dividing cells, such as ectopic mass cells.
If you take this medicine, your doctor will give it to you as an injection. You should also have regular blood tests to make sure the medicine is working.
If it works, the medicine will cause symptoms similar to those of a miscarriage. These include:
- tissue passing
Further surgery is not usually necessary after this. Methotrexate does not have the same risks of surgical tuberculosis injury. However, you will not be able to get pregnant for a few months after taking this medicine.
Many surgeons recommend removing the foetus and correcting any internal damage.
This procedure is called a laparotomy.
Your doctor will insert a small camera through a small hole to make sure they see their work. The surgeon then removes the foetus and repairs any damage to the fallopian tube.
If the operation is unsuccessful, the surgeon may repeat the laparotomy, this time using a large incision. Your doctor may also need to remove the tube during surgery if it is damaged.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions regarding your post-surgery care. The main purpose is to keep your opening clean and dry while recovering.
Check yourself daily for signs of infection, which may include:
- constant bleeding
- excessive bleeding
- smelly water from the site
- hot to the touch
Predictability and prevention are not possible in all cases. You may be able to reduce your risk with good reproductive health care.
Ask your partner to put on a condom during sex and reduce the number of your sexual partners. This reduces the risk of STDs, which can cause PID, a condition that can cause inflammation in the fallopian tubes.
Keep regular appointments with your doctor, including routine women’s tests and regular STD tests.
Taking steps to improve your health, such as quitting smoking, is also a good protection strategy.
What Is The Long-Term Vision?
Long-term vision after an ectopic pregnancy depends on whether it is causing damage to the body.
Most people with ectopic pregnancies continue to have healthy pregnancies. If both fallopian tubes are complete, or just one, the egg can be fertilized as normal. However, if you have an existing birth defect, that could affect your future birth and increase your risk of future ectopic pregnancy.
Surgery can damage the fallopian tubes, and can increase the chances of future ectopic pregnancy.
If you need to have one or both of these sperms removed, talk to your doctor about possible treatments for infertility. For example in vitro fertilization which involves inserting a fertilized egg into the uterus.
Loss of pregnancy, no matter how fast, can be harmful.
You can ask your doctor if there are support groups available in the area to provide you with more after the loss.
Take care of yourself after this loss by resting, eating healthy, and exercising where possible. Give yourself time to grieve.
Remember that many women continue to get pregnant with healthy babies. When you are ready, talk to your doctor about ways you can ensure your future pregnancy is healthy.
So now we have a complete knowledge about the signs, causes and diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy.
We had a detailed look into how ectopic pregnancy causes issues for a women in terms of future pregnancies.
If you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy, your risk of having another one is increased.
If you wish to try to get pregnant again, it’s very important to see your doctor regularly. Early blood tests are recommended for all women who’ve had an ectopic pregnancy.
Blood tests and ultrasound testing can alert your doctor if another ectopic pregnancy is developing.
So it is important to have regular appointments with your doctor in order to avoid risks of ectopic pregnancy and lead a happier life.