What is Ectopic Pregnancy? Risk, Symptoms, Treatment

The term ectopic means ‘out of place’ and is indicative of a condition where the fertilized egg starts growing in any location other than the womb (uterus).

In a normal pregnancy, after conception, the egg travels down one of the fallopian tubes to the uterus where it implants itself and grows. When tubal function is not optimal, the egg is not pushed towards the womb and can get implanted in the tube itself.

About one in 50 pregnancies turn out to be ectopic. In such a case, ending the pregnancy is the only option as there is no way to transplant the egg into the uterus and if it is left to develop in the tube, it can pose serious complications.

Who are at Risk:

While any woman can be at risk of an ectopic pregnancy, the chances are increased in certain cases. Women having increased chances of ectopic pregnancy are those:

• Over the age of 35 years

• Who have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID?)

• Who have had surgery on their fallopian tubes or anywhere near the pelvic or abdominal region?

• Who have already had one ectopic pregnancy?

• Who have multiple sex partners?

• Who are being treated for infertility?

• Suffering from endometriosis

• Who smoke?

What is Ectopic Pregnancy

Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy:

If an ectopic pregnancy is not recognized and treated, the embryo will grow until the fallopian tube ruptures, resulting in severe abdominal pain and bleeding.

This can cause permanent damage to the tube or loss of the tube, and usually involves very heavy internal bleeding, which if not treated promptly, can even leads to death. That’s why early diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care are so important.

Also Read: Home Remedies for Morning Sickness During Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is difficult to diagnose since the symptoms mirror those of a normal pregnancy. The warning signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy are:

• Pain or vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding may be different from your normal period. It is often delayed by a few days and may be lighter and brighter, darker red than usual, or watery.

• Possible pain in the pelvis, lower abdomen or even the shoulder and neck region

• Vaginal spotting

• Dizziness

Low blood pressure

Lower back pain

Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment:

The treatment of an ectopic pregnancy depends on the medical stability of the woman and the size and location of the pregnancy. It also depends on whether or not the ectopic pregnancy has ruptured.

An early enraptured pregnancy can be treated with methotrexate injection which stops the embryo growth. If the pregnancy is in advanced stages, a laparoscopic surgery is done to terminate the pregnancy.

If an ectopic pregnancy is detected early and the patient shows no symptoms, doctors may opt to delay the surgery as many ectopic pregnancies may miscarry naturally.

Effect on Future Pregnancies:

Most women who have had an ectopic pregnancy go on to have normal pregnancies in future. However, some women do face difficulty in conceiving again.

This is more common in women who were already facing fertility issues before the episode of ectopic pregnancy. The likelihood of a future normal pregnancy depends on a woman’s fertility before the ectopic pregnancy and the extent of the damage incurred to the tube.

Importance of Early Detection:

An ectopic pregnancy cannot be carried to full term under any circumstances. Since the egg cannot develop in the fallopian tube, it must be removed and the pregnancy terminated.

Early detection of the condition is very important, since it allows removal of the fertilized egg and saves the fallopian tube. However, if it is detected late and the tube ruptures, the condition can be fatal.

Surgical removal of the embryo and tube may save the patient along with considerable bad effect on future health. Removal of the tube reduces future pregnancy outcome.

SOURCE: B-Positive Health Magazine

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