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Ectopic Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What is Ectopic Pregnancy?

Ectopic Pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus and usually grown in the Fallopian tubes. In general, the pregnancy occurs in the uterus after a fertilized egg travelling through the Fallopian tube and reaches the uterus and then attaches to the uterus lining. While, ectopic pregnancy happens in the ovary or somewhere in the belly. It is usually seen in the Fallopian tubes. It is also called as “Tubal Pregnancy”.

There are 1-2% chances for the Ectopic Pregnancy in Women. But this is very much dangerous that needs an attention. As Fallopian tubes are not stretchable, there are chances to break if the pregnancy is growing in the tubes. It is called the ruptured Ectopic Pregnancy, causing bleeding, infection and sometimes leads to death.

What are the symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy?

The woman may not be aware of her Ectopic pregnancy. The characteristic symptoms listed below will be seen in the ruptured ectopic pregnancy and non-ruptured ectopic pregnancy. These symptoms are typically seen after 6-8 weeks of your last period. The symptoms are:

  • Vaginal bleeding, less or more than your normal period.
  • Sharp pain in the lower abdomen or in your pelvis.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness, restlessness or dizziness
  • Pain in one side of your body

Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy:

The causes of Ectopic Pregnancy are not clear, it may occur due to several reasons. Few of them are listed below:

  • Hormonal Factors
  • Pelvic Inflammation
  • Inflammation in the Fallopian tubes because of previous medical condition or surgery.
  • Birth defects
  • Using the fertility drugs
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Scar tissue from the previous infection

What are the risk factors and who is at the risk of Ectopic Pregnancy?

The risk factors varies, some of them are listed below:

Age: Ectopic pregnancy occurs in the women of any age who is ovulating. But most of the Women diagnosed are at the age of 35-44 are more likely to get ectopic pregnant.

Fallopian Tube Abnormalities: If the women are having a disruption in the general structure of the Fallopian tubes, can be a risk for tubal pregnancy.

Infections: The infections caused in the pelvic region are one of the major risk factors for Ectopic pregnancy. These infections occur due to sexually transmitted bacteria. There are also infections that are caused due to non-sexually transmitted bacteria. However, these infections give a chance for Ectopic pregnancy.

Gynecological Surgeries: Women who undergone gynecological surgeries such as tubal sterilization or reconstructive procedures may increase the risk of having an Ectopic pregnancy.

History of Ectopic Pregnancy: This is the greatest factor of having an ectopic pregnancy is the Woman who has a history of ectopic pregnancy previously.

Smoking: Women who smoke around the time of conception are at higher risk of Ectopic pregnancy.

IUD Use: Women who use intrauterine devices (IUD’s) are at the risk of Ectopic pregnancy. However the usage of IUD’s is low so there are fewer cases found related to IUD’s.

Infertility Treatments: The women undergoing the infertility treatments are high on the risk of Ectopic Pregnancy.

Multiple Sex Partners: Having multiple sex partners increase the risk of having Ectopic pregnancies because having multiple sex partners’ results in the pelvic infections.

How Ectopic Pregnancy is diagnosed?

Ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed by the physician performing the pelvic exam locating the pain, tenderness and mass inside. They also do Transvaginal ultrasound to check whether there is any developing fetus in the gestational sac checking whether it a normal pregnancy or an Ectopic pregnancy.

Pregnancy tests determine specific hormones. Beta HCG is used in the diagnosis of Ectopic pregnancy. The Beta HCG levels rise during the pregnancy. If any abnormal pattern noticed in the rise of this hormone can be a clue for Ectopic pregnancy.

Other diagnosis includes checking your Progesterone levels. The low progesterone levels indicate that you may have Ectopic Pregnancy. In addition to these tests, you may also me checked for Culdocentesis. It is a procedure where a needle is inserted into the space at the top of the vagina behind the uterus. If the blood present in this are indicates bleeding from the ruptured Fallopian tube.

Treatment for Ectopic Pregnancy:

Ectopic pregnancies are not good for the Women and if it is not diagnosed and treated timely it may result in the death. The embryo inside will not be able to develop in the fallopian tubes. So, it needs to be removed as soon as possible to protect the mother and her future fertility. Treatment options for Ectopic pregnancy may vary depending upon the diagnosis.

Treatment options for Ectopic pregnancy include observation, laparoscopy and medication. Some of the Ectopic pregnancy problems can be resolved on their own and some of them need surgery.

The procedure includes giving Methotrexate to absorb the pregnancy tissue by the body itself. It may save the Fallopian tubes from breaking. If the tube is ruptured and started bleeding, in this case the bleeding needs to be stopped and the tube needs to be removed. It’s an emergency case where surgery is a must.

There are two types of surgical options available. First one, Laparotomy it’s an open procedure where an incision is made across the lower abdomen. And the other is laparoscopy. It involves the insertion of viewing instruments inside the pelvis through tiny holes on the skin. Laparoscopy is better than Laparotomy because it uses the tiny incisions which have a speedier recovery than incision that is made across the abdomen. A small incision made in the Fallopian tube and the ectopic pregnancy can be removed.

The HCG levels should be monitored on the regular basis until it becomes zero. If HCG remaining high indicates that the Ectopic tissue was not completely removed, this would require an attention.

Chances of Getting Pregnancy in Future:

The chances of getting pregnant may be considerably low post Ectopic pregnancy. It completely depends upon your medical history too. If the Fallopian tubes are not ruptured, there are 60% chances of having a pregnancy in the future.


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