Last updated on March 12th, 2021
Pregnancy begins with fertilization and then passes through several stages, including the transfer of the fertilized egg to the uterus to stick to its wall. But in some cases, the fertilized egg cannot reach the uterus and gets stuck in the fallopian tube, the abdominal cavity, or the cervix, a condition known as an ectopic pregnancy, which requires immediate intervention from the doctor to get rid of the pregnancy and to protect you from its dangerous complications if it is done in this way.
What is an ectopic pregnancy?
In a normal pregnancy, the sperm fertilizes the egg in the fallopian tube and implants it into the spongy lining of the uterus. This lining provides all the nutrients needed for the developing fetus.
In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus, and it is more dangerous than it appears as it can be fatal to the mother. Hence, you must watch for any strange symptoms in the first trimester and consult your doctor immediately if you experience any abnormal symptoms.
What are the ectopic pregnancy symptoms?
This type of pregnancy initially shows symptoms of a normal pregnancy, such as:
- No menstrual period
- Pain and swelling in the breast
- Constant urination
However, as it progresses, an ectopic pregnancy, also called a tubal pregnancy, has bothersome symptoms, the most obvious of which is excessive vaginal bleeding. This occurs when an ectopic pregnancy ruptures and is classified as a medical emergency. If an ectopic pregnancy has ruptured, the symptoms and signs are as follows:
- Excessive sweating
- Severe pain in the pelvis and abdomen
- Speedy heartbeat (> 100 beats/minute)
- Pale moist skin like anemia
- Light-headedness or lightheadedness
- Excessive vaginal bleeding
- Shoulder pain in some cases (as abdominal bleeding can irritate the diaphragm and appear in the body as shoulder pain)
- Signs of shock
What are the causes of an ectopic pregnancy?
Possible causes of an ectopic pregnancy include:
- Inflammation: Inflammation or swelling in the fallopian tube can lead to a partial or complete blockage, which prevents the fertilized egg from continuing its course in the tube.
- Scar tissue: It may be difficult for the egg to travel through the fallopian tube if its path is blocked due to the presence of scar tissue that formed after an infection or some surgery.
- Fallopian tube shape: In some cases, there may be difficulty in transmitting the fertilized egg through the fallopian tube if the shape of the tube is abnormal as a result of an abnormal growth or birth defect.
- Hormonal factors.
- Genetic abnormalities.
- Birth defects.
Factors that increase your risk to an ectopic pregnancy
There are a few risk factors that can lead to an ectopic pregnancy:
- Age: The highest rate of ectopic pregnancies monitored is found to range from 35-44 years of age.
- If your previous pregnancy was outside the womb, there is a good chance that your next pregnancy would be also because an ectopic pregnancy can cause tissue damage.
- If you undergo pelvic or abdominal surgery, you could have an ectopic pregnancy because the surgery poses a risk of damage to the fallopian tubes and may lead to an ectopic pregnancy.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease is a common risk factor because it causes scar tissue to develop in the fallopian tubes.
- Previous abortions can increase your risk because they may have affected internal organs.
- If you happen to get pregnant while you have an IUD, you could have an ectopic pregnancy.
- Likewise, a previous tubal ligation can sometimes damage a pregnancy by altering the fallopian tube.
- Smoking is believed to affect the fallopian tube’s ability to function normally and transport the fertilized egg to the uterus, causing an ectopic pregnancy.
- If you are undergoing fertility treatment, you are at increased risk. During treatment, the opening of the fallopian tubes is enlarged to facilitate embryo transfer. This dilation may be counter-productive and may lead to an ectopic pregnancy.
- Endometriosis, a condition in which endometrial tissue grows in places other than the uterus, can cause an ectopic pregnancy.
Who’s at Risk for an Ectopic Pregnancy?
- Women who are over 35 years old
- Women with a previous history of recurrent miscarriage.
- Women who have had some diseases, such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- Women who are taking testicular medications
- Women who became pregnant as a result of ICSI
Fertility after ectopic? What About Future Pregnancies?
Most women who have had an ectopic pregnancy experience has a normal pregnancy and delivery, even if one of the entire tubes is removed. As long as one tube works, you can get pregnant. If the cause of an ectopic pregnancy is a treatable disease, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, then receiving treatment improves the chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy in the future.
Women who have previously had an ectopic pregnancy experience are advised to consult their physician about the recommended waiting time until they try to conceive again. Some doctors recommend waiting for 3-6 months.
The news is good for those who have endured an ectopic pregnancy. According to statistics, women who have had a pregnancy outside the womb have a 65% chance of having a normal and healthy pregnancy within 18 months. The probability is expected to rise to 85% in the next two years, thanks to advances in medical surgery in this area.
It is important to remember that if the fallopian tubes are healthy and well treated, the most likely chance is a natural pregnancy.
Women who have had a miscarriage are advised to take some time to heal their bodies and soul. Above all, it is essential to understand that this is about circumstances beyond her control, and this is not her fault in any way. Support groups can be used to overcome grief and feelings of loss.
What are the complications of an ectopic pregnancy?
The fate of an ectopic pregnancy cannot be predicted. Sometimes, the fetus may grow so that the tubal is no longer able to contain it. Then it comes out into the peritoneum, which may cause rupture of the tubal wall, and cause bleeding inside the peritoneum, abdominal pain. Sometimes a pregnancy may stop developing, and it will be absorbed until it disappears completely.
When the diagnosis is confirmed with the presence of ectopic pregnancy, the mom must be prepared for severe monitoring and follow-up, given the risk of exacerbation of some of these cases, which may require surgical intervention.
But in easy cases, with a continuous decrease in the hormone level, it can suffice with monitoring alone. After ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy), the probability of a healthy uterus pregnancy reaches 80% – 88%, while the probability of another ectopic pregnancy is 4.2% – 5%.
Ectopic pregnancy: can it be prevented?
The occurrence of an ectopic pregnancy is one of the things that cannot be prevented. Still, it is possible for a woman to reduce the risk and likelihood of exposure to it by following some advice, the most important of which are:
- Consult a doctor before the occurrence of pregnancy.
- Stop smoking.
- Treat an infection that results in a blocked fallopian tube.
- Treat infections that occur in the pelvic area, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Lab tests and x-rays early to prevent a recurrence of an ectopic pregnancy.
- Perform the necessary tests such as ovarian examinations.
What treatment options are available for an ectopic pregnancy?
In an ectopic pregnancy, there is no way for the fetus to survive. The greater its size, the greater the risk to the mother’s life. And since the fertilized egg cannot be transferred into the uterus either, the only option is to terminate the pregnancy.
Commonly used treatments are:
A dose of methotrexate will be injected into the blood, which will stop the growth of the fetus. Your doctor will monitor this closely, and a second dose will be provided if needed. There are some side effects to this as well, and you will have to be careful with preventive methods, which your doctor will explain to you.
- After treatment with methotrexate, doctors will advise you to use birth control for at least three months as the medicine is still in your body, and it could harm your baby in the event of a future pregnancy.
- You are also asked to refrain from drinking alcohol as it can interact with methotrexate and cause serious liver damage.
Only when internal bleeding is detected, do doctors resort to surgery. This involves removing the fallopian tube where the pregnancy is. This is done with the help of laparoscopy, and there are two types of keyhole surgery that are performed:
- Salpingostomy: A small cut is made in the fallopian tube that is used to remove the growth outside the uterus, and then the wound is left to heal on its own or is sutured.
- Salpingectomy: The portion of the fallopian tube where the growth appears outside the uterus is removed, and the remaining length of the tube is reconnected. This is done when an ectopic pregnancy ruptures and damages the fallopian tube.
In the above cases, one of the possible side effects is the rupture of the fallopian tubes. At this point, surgery is performed, and the fallopian tube is repaired or removed depending on the extent of the damage.
Treatment options are always widely discussed before making a decision and depends on the level of your condition. Always make sure you are satisfied with the decision, and never hesitate to ask the doctor questions.
It is intended to follow your doctor’s instructions after surgery to ensure your health and safety and to prevent infection.
Signs of an infection in a sore wound:
1. Bleeding at the site of surgery.
2. An abscess or pus at the site of the surgery.
3. Redness and swelling of the surgical site.
4. Feeling pain.
Instructions, the doctor may prescribe
1. Do not lift heavy objects.
2. Be sure to drink lots of water and fluids to prevent constipation.
3. Rest, especially the first week after surgery, and allow gentle movement in the following weeks.
The problem with an ectopic pregnancy is the decision to terminate the pregnancy and lose the fetus. One of the most challenging decisions a mother faces, and with hormonal changes, the mother may become vulnerable to depression and sadness. Therefore, it is preferable for the mother to receive adequate support from the family and the husband.
There is no health problem in getting pregnant again. Some mothers have a wonderful pregnancy without health risks after having an ectopic pregnancy. So do not worry, mother, there are other chances of pregnancy; just follow up with your doctor.
how long does it take to recover ?
In fact, the postoperative recovery period takes only a few weeks; after 7 days, the stitches are removed from the girl. About two months after the abdominoplasty, sudden movements and weightlifting should be avoided; otherwise, the risk of seam divergence increases. Generally, recovery can take several months.
Removing one tube in the presence of the permitted second leaves woman the opportunity to conceive naturally, so she does not treat this situation as a judgment. Although doctors are allowed to conceive after about six months of treating ectopic pregnancy, it is best to wait at least a year with the pregnancy for the patient’s body, hormonal backgrounder, and reproductive system to recover completely.
Practice shows that patients who become pregnant after six months of an ectopic pregnancy are more likely to experience an ectopic pregnancy than to plan a pregnancy a year later.
Frequently Asked Questions / FAQ’s
Can stress cause ectopic pregnancy?
Yes, although the exact cause of an ectopic pregnancy can be unclear in every case, it can be attributed to anything that causes stress or imbalance in the womb, such as surgery or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Is it possible to get rid of an ectopic pregnancy without surgery?
Yes, in some cases, if the ectopic pregnancy symptoms are not severe, you will not be given any medicine or treatment. This is usually best so that you do not have to put up with medications’ medical side effects.
However, you are closely monitored, and the pregnancy will often go away on its own. There is mild discomfort that comes with this method, but it will be taken care of by the doctor.
If you have an ectopic pregnancy, will the pregnancy test be positive or negative?
Like a normal pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy test is a positive pregnancy test due to the hormone HCG presence, which seems harmless. However, if HCG levels do not rise as expected, an ectopic pregnancy is suspected.
Is it possible to save the baby during an ectopic pregnancy?
Unfortunately, there is no way to maintain an ectopic pregnancy. There are many options to treat the condition to not lead to any complications that eliminate your future chances.
With timely diagnosis and care, you have a perfect chance of having a healthy future pregnancy again because this pregnancy is not considered pregnancy and cannot be saved in any way.
Is ectopic pregnancy a miscarriage?
Yes, an ectopic pregnancy represents a great danger to the mother. Also, the fetus will not be able to continue to grow to the end, so abortion is an inevitable solution in this case for the mother’s health and the preservation of her womb and fertility in the future.
How do you know that you have an ectopic pregnancy?
This can be noticed by symptoms between the fourth and tenth week of pregnancy, such as small amounts of unusual vaginal bleeding, brownish watery secretions, and a feeling of pain down one side of the abdomen.
Pain similar to the suffering of the absence of a menstrual period, the feeling of pain in the shoulders, sudden and severe pain in the stomach or back, if you feel as if you will lose consciousness, or if you fall asleep, pain in the breasts and pain in the abdomen and pelvis, and not feeling comfortable during urination or Output.
What are Early warnings of ectopic pregnancy ?
Light vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain are usually the first warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy. If blood leaks from the fallopian tube, you may feel shoulder pain or the urge to urinate. Your specific symptoms depend on where the blood has collected and the irritated nerves.