Ectopic pregnancy symptoms & treatment

Today we will discuss “ectopic pregnancy”, what it is, various causes behind this problem, symptoms to check, diagnosis process and prevention.

The term pregnancy is used to describe the 9 month time period in which a fetus is developed inside a woman’s womb. Pregnancy starts with a fertilized egg and it normally gets attached to the lining of the uterus but it gets problematic when it instead gets implanted outside the main cavity, which in medical terms is called “Ectopic Pregnancy”.

Unlike natural or normal pregnancy where the fetus is implanted and developed inside the uterus, in the case of ectopic pregnancy the fetus is developed outside of the uterus and in most cases ectopic pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tube (which is also called tubal ectopic pregnancy). But it can also occur in other organs such as the ovary, cervix or the abdominal cavity.

The problem is that in ectopic pregnancy it is impossible for the egg to survive outside the uterus and because the tissues are growing, it might cause severe damage and internal bleeding that can be life-threatening.

Studies show that one in every hundred women bear the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.

Various causes –

  • The leading cause of ectopic pregnancy is PID or pelvic inflammatory disease (infection or inflammation in the fallopian tube which causes it to block partially or completely) which may be caused by other sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea. These diseases can cause inflammation in the fallopian tube and also in other organs, which in terms increases the chances of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Abnormally shaped fallopian tubes might also cause the fertilized egg to stuck and lead to an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Repeated induced abortion and birth control like IUD (intrauterine device) is also a huge factor that increases the chances of an ectopic pregnancy. If your test result comes positive even after taking contraceptive then it is most likely an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Smoking is also a major reason for ectopic pregnancy, quit smoking before you get pregnant.

When and how to suspect –

Either you have missed your periods or you have a positive result in pregnancy test, but if you have lower abdominal pain associated with it then it might be an indication.

Also other indications like spotting often and in very rare cases there might be instances of fainting attacks.

If you have any or all of the symptoms, you should immediately consult your gynecologist, because if you delay there may be a chance of profuse intra abdominal bleeding and you might even lose your patient.

Diagnosis -The most common diagnosis process for ectopic pregnancy is ultrasound which is an image testing process. It uses sound waves to identify problems in internal organs. Your doctor will use this procedure to create an image of your reproductive system and identify the position of the egg and the tissues.

Treatment- After the diagnosis the fertilized egg needs to be removed and depending on the situation the process might involve a laparoscopy surgery or abdominal surgery. It may also require medication which will be prescribed by your doctor.