Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms

November 12, 2012

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants in one of the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. It is a life-threatening condition that is usually discovered around the 8th week of pregnancy. Most cases require emergency medical attention.

Causes

An ectopic pregnancy occurs in up to 1 out of every 50 pregnancies. A defect in the fallopian tubes may prevent the embryo to reach the uterus. This may cause the egg to implant in the fallopian tube. Occasionally the embryo may attach to an ovary or other abdominal organs. Ectopic pregnancy symptoms are common in women who were using intrauterine devices for birth control at the time of conception. Women with a history of pelvic inflammatory disease or sexually-transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are at a greater risk as well. Other risk factors include congenital abnormality of the fallopian tube, pelvic surgery, history of ectopic pregnancy during previous pregnancies, unsuccessful tubal ligation, and infertility treatments.

Symptoms

The common ectopic pregnancy symptoms include:

  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sharp pain in the lower abdomen
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Pain on one side of the body, especially in the shoulder, neck and rectum.
  • Severe pain and bleeding due to the rupture of the fallopian tube ruptures.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you suspect ectopic pregnancy. Prompt treatment will prevent hemorrhage and help preserve your fertility.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will analyze your pregnancy symptoms, and confirm the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy with pelvic exam, and ultrasound test of the uterus and fallopian tubes.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the severity of your pregnancy symptoms as well as your future plans for pregnancy. Fallopian tube rupture requires an emergency surgery to stop the bleeding. Surgical removal of the fallopian tube and ovary may be required in some cases.

Early stage pregnancies with intact fallopian tubes may be treated with laparoscopic surgery, during which a thin, flexible instrument inserted through small incisions in the abdomen, and the embryo is removed without damaging the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. Medications may also be prescribed to prevent the growth of pregnancy tissue in women who are in early stages of pregnancy with intact tubes.

Additional blood tests may be conducted after the treatment to ensure the complete removal of the tubal pregnancy.

Prognosis

There is no way of preventing ectopic pregnancy symptoms, although treating the underlying causes may lower the risk. Most women can have successful and normal pregnancies after an ectopic pregnancy. Even a part of functional fallopian tube is sufficient for pregnancy. Your doctor may give you additional tips to manage your condition.

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