Under normal circumstances, pregnancy starts when a sperm fertilizes an egg. The fertilized egg travels to the uterus and implants itself to the lining of the uterus. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg does not implant itself in the main cavity of the uterus and grows outside it. In most cases, an ectopic pregnancy happens in a fallopian tube and is called a tubal pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy can happen in areas like the ovaries, cervix or the abdominal cavity. The ectopic pregnancy cannot progress normally and can potentially be life-threatening if left untreated.
Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy
Some women may experience the early symptoms of pregnancy like a missed period, nausea and tenderness of the breasts. A pregnancy test can be positive too.
- Early warning signs
Even with the early pregnancy symptoms and a positive pregnancy test, the pregnancy can’t progress. Vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain are often seen as a warning sign. If there is leakage of blood from the fallopian tube, you may feel the need to pass a bowel moment or have pain in the shoulder. But the symptoms may vary depending on the area that the blood collects in.
- Signs of emergency
If the fertilized egg keeps growing in the fallopian tube, the tube can potentially rupture and cause bleeding in the abdomen. A life-threatening emergency can also include extreme light-headedness, shock and fainting. Get immediate medical attention if you have severe abdominal pain with bleeding, Fainting or light-headedness and/or shoulder pain.
- Risk factors
While the occurrence of an ectopic pregnancy cannot be predicted, some factors may make you more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy.
- Having a previous ectopic pregnancy
- Inflammation or infections that include sexually transmitted infections.
- Undergoing fertility treatments like IVF
- Tubal surgery is done to correct a blocked or damaged fallopian tube.
- Some cases of using Intrauterine devices as birth control.
- How to prevent an ectopic pregnancy?
There is no sure-fire way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy but the risks can be lowered by having limited sexual partners and using condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. If you smoke, do quit before you try to conceive.