It is estimated that 1 in 100 pregnancies are ectopic, also known as tubal pregnancy. Learn more.
1 in 100 pregnancies are ectopic.
Ectopic pregnancy—also known as tubal pregnancy—is a second trimester complication wherein the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus, most commonly along the fallopian tubes. As the embryo grows in ectopic pregnancy, the fallopian tubes also grow in size, leading to possible rupture and heavy bleeding. That said, ectopic pregnancy can be very dangerous. But, how do we recognize ectopic pregnancy? An ectopic pregnancy can by no means turn into normal pregnancy, although it should be noted that ectopic pregnancy can go away without intervention. Find out the common clinical manifestations of ectopic gestation.
- Amenorrhea. Many mothers do not know that they are pregnant until signs of ectopic pregnancy come into sight. Like a normal pregnancy, a missed period (or amenorrhea) is the classical sign of pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies reveal a positive HCG test result.
- Abdominal or pelvic pain. Pain associated with ectopic pregnancy is described as sharp, often unilateral (usually on the left side) at first then spread throughout the pelvis or abdomen. The pain aggravates when the person moves or strains. Abdominal pain in ectopic pregnancy usually occurs 6 to 8 weeks after the missed period. Abdominal cramping can be so severe that pregnant mothers have difficulty getting up.
- Shoulder pain. Shoulder pain occurs when there is an accumulation of blood in the body. The piled blood pushes up the diaphragm, which explains why shoulder pain is felt. Shoulder pain is an indicative sign that the fertilized egg has ruptured.
- Severe Vaginal bleeding. Heavy, bright red bleeding is not a normal sign of pregnancy. Heavy bleeding is measured when the mother is able to consume 2 pads over an hour period.
- Dizziness, light-headedness. Dizziness in ectopic pregnancy connotes that there is severe blood loss, potentially including internal bleeding.
- Pain during sex or pelvic examination. Movement during sexual activity and pelvic examination in ectopic pregnancy can cause pain due to the pressure on the fertilized egg in the fallopian tube. Fallopian tubes are so sensitive that even a small amount of movement can evoke pain.
- Shock. The major health risk associated with ectopic pregnancy is internal bleeding, which could result in shock. Shock is a dangerous physical condition because it can cause multiple organ failure. Signs and symptoms of shock are lowered blood vital signs, cold and clammy skin, shallow breathing and rapid pulse.
Ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed through ultrasound. Common treatments for ectopic pregnancy are medication therapy and surgery, commonly in the form of a laparotomy in which a small incision in the skin is performed to facilitate removal of ectopic pregnancy while leaving the fallopian tube intact. Emergency surgery can be done after the examination to prevent shock or sepsis. Accumulated blood in the pelvic region can lead to scar tissues, which can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies in the future.
Some ectopic pregnancies resolve on their own naturally without causing complications, but in the majority of cases, rupture and internal bleeding occurs. When bleeding is present, surgical intervention is most likely. The blood that leaks from the ruptured fallopian tube which presses veins and irritates tissue is what mainly causes the signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy.