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What to Know About Ectopic Pregnancy?

What to Know About Ectopic Pregnancy?
Expert
Family, Self

The majority of expecting Mothers have a safe Pregnancy and Delivery, but not all do.

The majority of expecting mothers have a safe pregnancy and delivery, but not all do. An ectopic pregnancy is a very rare, but potentially fatal, pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies happen when a fertilized egg grows outside of the lining of the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. As a result, both the fetus and mother may not survive if not tended to.


While the ectopic pregnancy, or tubal pregnancy, rates are only at an average of 2-percent, it is still concerning. Paying close attention to any abnormal symptoms during pregnancy in general is important.


Here’s what you should know about ectopic pregnancies to be well-informed if you are expecting or planning to become pregnant:


Signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy
Many women who are having an ectopic pregnancy may not even notice signs when pregnant at all. This is in part because an ectopic pregnancy has varying symptoms from a healthy pregnancy. Some may not have heavy symptoms to begin with. But nevertheless, the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are worrisome.


Some of the most common symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Severe pelvic and/or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate or heart palpitations
  • Shoulder pain
  • Abnormal bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


If you or someone you know has signs of an ectopic pregnancy, reaching out to a medical professional is crucial. While it may not be an ectopic pregnancy, there might be something else medically going wrong. It is best to be safe than sorry. The longer one waits with a potential ectopic pregnancy, the more severe it can become.


Risk Factors
While the cause(s) of an ectopic pregnancy are unknown, there are certain factors that may put a woman at risk:

  • History of ectopic pregnancy
  • Endometriosis
  • IUD usage
  • Reproductive organ damage or deformity
  • Sexually- or non-sexually transmitted disease or infection (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, recurring bacterial vaginosis)
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Past abdominal or pelvic surgeries
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Early age at the time of first intercourse
  • Vaginal douching
  • Several previous abortions
  • Fertility difficulty
  • Smoking
  • Being over the age of 35


While women may meet some of the latter criteria, this does not guarantee that they will have an ectopic pregnancy. Even healthy women can have an ectopic pregnancy. As mentioned, there is no single known cause of this rare pregnancy. That said, it can happen to any woman at any time.


If you meet any of the above risk factors, reach out to a medical professional before planning on getting pregnant. They may help you decide if you are healthy enough to conceive. They can also educate you and help you devise a plan in case you do have an ectopic pregnancy.


Even if you think you have successfully conceived, it is still crucial to track your pregnancy week by week. Ectopic pregnancies are usually not discovered right away as symptoms may slowly build. Every ectopic pregnancy is different.


Especially track your pregnancy within the first six weeks if you’re at risk for an ectopic pregnancy. If diagnosed and treated within this time frame, your symptoms may not be at a severe level. Additionally, you may qualify for milder forms of treatment for your ectopic pregnancy.


The Next Step
A doctor can detect an ectopic pregnancy via an ultrasound and bloodwork. According to American Family Physician, modern technology has made it possible to detect an ectopic pregnancy earlier on. If and when you or a loved one are diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, getting help is the next step.  


Unfortunately, all ectopic pregnancies must be terminated. If an ectopic pregnancy is left untreated, the mother may have severe, internal bleeding that could lead to death. One in 40 women with an ectopic pregnancy may suffer from the latter. Additionally, the fetus will not survive as fetuses cannot thrive outside of the uterus lining.


If caught within six weeks or less, a doctor can terminate an ectopic pregnancy by providing medication. In its later stages, an ectopic pregnancy may have to be removed via surgery.


The recovery time after treating an ectopic pregnancy can range from four to six weeks. Your hCG levels may be monitored by your doctor after surgical removal of your ectopic pregnancy. For women with a ruptured fallopian tube due to an ectopic pregnancy, an additional surgery will be necessary.


Conclusion
Even if you are not pregnant at this time, knowing what constitutes as an ectopic pregnancy is important to know. Knowing the signs and risk factors may help you or a friend in the future.  


Setting ectopic pregnancies aside, it is still important to seek a doctor upon finding out you’re pregnant. Millions of women will go through safe, normal pregnancies. But in the case that there is a medical concern for you or your fetus, receiving medical attention is important. Do what’s best for you and your unborn child.