Ectopic Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized and then the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus.

Fallopian tubes are the most common position for an ectopic pregnancy to take place. Fallopian tubes are the part of the reproductive system which carries eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. This type of ectopic pregnancy is called a tubal pregnancy but an ectopic pregnancy can occur in any other areas of the body as well such as the ovary, abdominal cavity, or the lower part of the uterus which connects to the vagina.

An ectopic pregnancy isn't a normal pregnancy. In this type of pregnancy, the fertilized egg can't survive and it may cause life-threatening bleeding if not treated in time. Let's know other causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for the condition.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Symptoms 

According to Cleveland Clinic, women who have an ectopic pregnancy have the usual early signs or symptoms of pregnancy like a missed period, breast tenderness and nausea. But it can't end up like a normal pregnancy. Thus, other signs and symptoms to look for are:

  • Vaginal bleeding.

  • Pain in your lower abdomen, pelvis, and lower back.

  • Dizziness or weakness.

  • The fallopian tube may rupture the pain and bleeding could be severe enough to cause additional symptoms. These can include:

  • Fainting.

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension).

  • Shoulder pain.

  • Rectal pressure or bowel problems.

If blood leaks from the fallopian tube, you may also experience shoulder pain or an urge to have a bowel movement.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Causes & Risk Factors

A tubal pregnancy is one of the most common ectopic pregnancies and it occurs when a fertilized egg gets stuck on its way to the uterus. It happens because the fallopian tube is damaged by inflammation. Hormonal imbalances or abnormal development of the fertilized egg may also play a role.

The risk factors that increase the chances of an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • If you've experienced this type of pregnancy before, you are at risk of experiencing another one.

  • Sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause inflammation in the tubes and nearby organs thus increasing the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.

  • Fertility treatments in vitro fertilization (IVF) or similar treatments are more likely to result in an ectopic pregnancy.

  • Surgery to correct a closed or damaged fallopian tube can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.

  • If a woman gets pregnant with an IUD in place, it's more likely to be ectopic.

  • Smoking before conceiving can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. The more you smoke, the greater the risk.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Diagnosis

According to the doctors of the Mayo Clinic, a few tests that help confirm an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • A urine test in which a test strip is dipped into the urine sample.

  • A blood test to see how much of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) you have in your body. A low amount may indicate an ectopic pregnancy.

  • An ultrasound exam to see where the fertilized egg has implanted.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Treatment 

A fertilized egg can't develop normally outside the uterus and doctors may suggest you get undergo surgery to get it removed to prevent any life-threatening complications. Now it is the doctor's wish to decide what procedure- medication, laparoscopic surgery, or abdominal surgery, he may want to use depending on your age, stage of pregnancy, and position of the fertilized egg.

An early ectopic pregnancy without bleeding is often treated with a medication called methotrexate, which stops cell growth and dissolves existing cells.

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