Ectopic Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Is Ectopic pregnancy normal?

Are ectopic pregnancy and tubal pregnancy the same?

Is there a chance for you develop this condition?

Today’s post covers ectopic pregnancy and answers some common questions that moms and moms to be have about this condition.

ectopic pregnancy

Thanks to the advent of ultrasounds and other tests, expecting moms can keep a track of their baby’s movements. Yet most of the ladies worry if everything is going well. In most cases, the pregnancies go smoothly and without a hitch (barring the unpleasant side effects like nausea, mood swings etc) but unfortunately some don’t. One such case is the Ectopic pregnancy.

What is ectopic pregnancy?

The dictionary defines ectopic as – In an abnormal place or position. A pregnancy where the implantation of the embryo happens anywhere other than the uterus, can be termed as an ectopic or tubal pregnancy. It leads to severe complications and hence you need medical intervention immediately.

The most common case is where the egg gets attached to the fallopian tube. Hence the name tubal pregnancy. The less common cases are where the egg attaches to the cervix, ovary or any other place.

Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy:

 It is very easy to confuse the symptoms of a tubal pregnancy with a normal pregnancy. But there are some things that stand out.The symptoms that can indicate an ectopic/ tubal pregnancy are-

  1. Severe pain in the abdomen
  2. Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  3. Absence of periods
  4. Cramps
  5. Nausea and/or vomiting
  6. Dizziness
  7. Shoulder pain
  8. Sudden excruciating pain leading to fainting and heavy bleeding

If you notice any of these symptoms or suspect that you might have an ectopic pregnancy, consult your doctor at the earliest.

Also read: 11 pregnancy symptoms before missed period.

7 Frequently asked questions about ectopic pregnancy:

Here are the 7 frequently asked questions about tubular pregnancy with answers.

#1. How early can it be diagnosed?

The onset of symptoms can appear as early as 5 ½ to 6 weeks after your last period. You may even mistake these symptoms for normal pregnancy signs. But signs like pain in the lower abdomen on only side are not signs of a normal pregnancy.

You can also read the 13 early signs of pregnancy.

What makes this condition so serious? Like I said before, this is a condition with symptoms that can easily get confused with normal pregnancy signs. In some cases, the warning signs may even escape detection in earlier stages. This can lead to delayed medical intervention that can in turn cause severe complications or even death.

In cases where the fallopian tube ruptures, internal bleeding, severe pain and fainting happens. Internal bleeding can be fatal if not addressed on time.

Apart from this, it can also lead to infections.

#2. What are the tests done to confirm tubal pregnancy?

  • Transvaginal Ultrasound – In this type of ultrasound, a probe is inserted into the vagina to find out if your pregnancy is a normal one or not.
  • Blood test – A blood test to determine the levels of hCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin will also tell you if it’s an ectopic pregnancy. As you know hCG is produced only upon implantation, but the hCG in ectopic pregnancy will be different than the normal range as the implantation hasn’t happened inside the uterus.

Also read: Home pregnancy kit- A simple guide & FAQs

#3. Can it be treated?

The treatment for ectopic pregnancy varies depending on how far along the pregnancy is. If diagnosed on time, you can treat ectopic pregnancies with medication. The medicine is administered via an injection.

The other option is surgery. The type of surgery depends on how advanced your condition is.

If the pregnancy was detected early and there is no heartbeat, you doctor might not even go for any treatment mentioned above. But in such cases, you might need to get a check-up done later to find out if you are out of danger.

Whatever the treatment style, you will still need to go for additional tests to ensure that termination of the pregnancy has occurred.

#4. Are you at risk?

Let us now look at things that can put you at risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.

  1. STDs
  2. Age – if you are 35+ there is a chance of you having an ectopic pregnancy.
  3. Previous case of ectopic pregnancy.
  4. Pregnancy due to a fertility procedure- in such cases, there is a slight chance of the implantation happening in the fallopian tube.
  5. Surgeries – if you have had any abdominal surgery or sterilization procedure reversal, it may cause scarring of the fallopian tubes that can put you at risk.
  6. Pelvic Inflammatory disease.
  7. Pregnancy despite using oral contraceptives or IUDs
  8. Smoking
  9. Any genetic or medical conditions that affects the shape of the reproductive organs.

#5. What is heterotopic pregnancy?

 A heterotopic pregnancy is a rare complication where implantation occurs in the womb and outside the womb simultaneously. That means ectopic and intra uterine pregnancy occurs at the same time.

It is difficult to diagnose as the symptoms of this condition is a mixture of both normal and ectopic pregnancy. But the moment you notice anything alarming, alert your doc because if left untreated it can be dangerous. If treatment is provided on time, the expectant mom can go on to deliver a healthy baby.

#6. Can you have a normal pregnancy after an ectopic pregnancy?

 The good news is that even after an ectopic pregnancy you can have a normal pregnancy. Even in cases where a fallopian tube has been removed you can conceive, as long as you have one healthy tube.

If you know the cause of the ectopic pregnancy, ensure that you weed it out.

#7. When can you conceive after an ectopic pregnancy?

You need to give your body time to heal before another pregnancy. Ideally a wait of 6 months is recommended. Make sure you and your partner talk to your doctor before trying again.

Coping with the loss:

Pregnancy is a high point of a woman’s life and the dealing with an ectopic pregnancy can be quite traumatic. So take some time to heal and cope with the loss. You and your partner need to be mentally prepared before you try to conceive again.

Hope you have been able to clear your doubts regarding the tubular pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy. In case you have any more doubts or comments, do share with us.

About Author

A stay at home mom for a feisty 19 month old named Ahaana, Chitra Santosh has rekindled her romance with words once again now. Though Arakkonam is her home, she can be seen migrating to Mavelikara, a quaint little town in Alappey during summers. Studies have shown that this has no connection with the migratory patterns of birds.

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