Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic or tubal pregnancy is one that develops outside the uterus as the fertilized egg implants itself in other parts of the body like the fallopian tubes (the most common type), ovary, cervix or in any area of the abdomen. This type of pregnancy puts the health of the patient at great risk and, although it often ends in miscarriage, it should be discontinued as soon as possible to avoid complications, for example, it could rupture the fallopian tubes. To know more about this condition, keep reading this OneHowTo article because we show you all the sings and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy as well as the risk factors and possible forms of treatment.

How does an ectopic pregnancy happen?

In a normal pregnancy, the fertilized egg is moved through the fallopian tube into the uterus, where it grows. However, if the fallopian tube is damaged or there is a blockage that doesn't allow the egg to move as normal, it can implant itself in the tube and start its development there, thereby causing what is called a tubal pregnancy. This is the most common type of ectopic pregnancy, although it can also happen in other parts of the body such as the neck of the uterus, the ovary or elsewhere in the abdomen.

Although every woman can have an ectopic pregnancy, there are certain risk factors that make it more likely for some women to develop it than others. These are detailed below:

  • If you have had your fallopian tubes operated on or have undergone surgical sterilization.
  • If you have birth defects in your fallopian tubes.
  • If you have previously had an ectopic pregnancy.
  • If you have suffered from endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • If you have scarring from previous infections or previous surgery on your female organs.
  • Getting pregnant when using an IUD.
  • If you are over 35 years old.
Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy - How does an ectopic pregnancy happen?

Signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy

Initially, the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy can be confused with those of a normal pregnancy that develops in the womb, and this may delay the woman's menstrual period, cause fatigue, nausea and tenderness in her breasts. These symptoms can vary from one patient to another and there are also cases in which the woman has had no symptoms until the ectopic pregnancy causes the fallopian tube to rupture.

In many cases, this type of pregnancy is diagnosed during the first prenatal appointment or during an ultrasound, so it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible if you think you are pregnant or if you experience any of the symptoms listed below. For this, we highlight that the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy can be:

  • Abdominal pain or pelvic pain.
  • Back pain.
  • Vaginal bleeding or abnormal blood loss.
  • Generally feeling ill.
  • If the tube ruptures, you can experience symptoms such as shoulder pain, acute pain in the abdomen, rectal pressure, paleness, sweating, a weak pulse, and dizziness and/or fainting.

It is important to go to the emergency room or contact a hospital if you experience these symptoms that could mean that the fallopian tube has ruptured, as immediate medical intervention will be key to ensuring the patient's health.

Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy - Signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy

How an ectopic pregnancy is treated

An ectopic pregnancy can be very dangerous to the woman's health and, therefore, she can't continue this pregnancy until birth and it should be discontinued as soon as possible.

The physician will decide the form of treatment based on the specifics of each case, but if the fallopian tube hasn't ruptured, it can involve medication or surgery:

  • Methotrexate medication: this medication is injected in order to reach the embryo through the blood and stop placental cells from growing. This is usually administered if the woman's condition is stable and the embryo is small.
  • In cases where it is not possible to administer this medication, when the pain is very intense or there is internal bleeding, surgical intervention will be necessary. When the embryo is small and the woman's condition is favorable then it is possible to resort to the so-called laparoscopic surgery to remove the embryo. However, if the tube has been badly damaged and there's very heavy bleeding, it is possible that the doctor may consider removing the affected tube.
Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy - How an ectopic pregnancy is treated

Ectopic pregnancy prognosis

Women who have suffered an ectopic pregnancy can have a baby later, although they are at greater risk of having another ectopic pregnancy than those who have not had one before. However, this will depend on each case and, above all, the state in which the fallopian tubes are in, because if they have been damaged or one of them has had to be removed, the chances of getting pregnant are considerably reduced.

There are several possible treatments for women who have had an ectopic pregnancy and want to try to conceive a child, so we recommend that you consult your doctor to find out more about them.

Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy - Ectopic pregnancy prognosis

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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