Ectopic pregnancy

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An ectopic pregnancy is a when an embryo implants itself outside the uterus. In a normal pregnancy the embryo usually implants itself in the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies are also called tubal pregnancies because they usually occur in a fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies cannot become normal pregnancies, and will not result in a baby. In unusual situations ectopic pregnancies can happen in the ovary or cervix.[1]

A diagram of an Ectopic Pregnancy, with the fetus stuck in the fallopian tube.

Risk Factors[change | edit source]

Symptoms[change | edit source]

Symptoms are usually similar to a normal pregnancy at the start. For ectopic pregnancies pain in the pelvis and bleeding from the vagina is also common. If the fallopian tube is broken, it will cause internal bleeding and possibly shock and fainting.[3]

Diagnosis and Treatment[change | edit source]

A physician can do an exam of the pelvis to test for sensitivity and pain, to figure out if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy. There are also blood tests for the pregnancy hormone hCG. In a normal pregnancy the hGC levels double every day, and low levels are evidence for a problem, like an ectopic pregnancy. An ultrasound can also be used to see if the embryo is implanted in the uterus or not.

There are two main ways to treat an ectopic pregnancy. The first is with the medicine methotrexate, which can be injected if the pregnancy is found early to get rid of it. The second is with a surgery called a laparoscopy, in which a surgeon makes a small cut in the belly, goes in and removes the blockage. A laparoscopy is done after the first couple of weeks of the pregnancy.[4]

Results[change | edit source]

An ectopic pregnancy cannot become a baby. But it can have effects on future pregnancies and fertility. Because in an ectopic pregnancy the egg grows (usually) in the fallopian tube, the fallopian tube can become damaged, making it more likely for another egg to get stuck there. The likeness of another ectopic pregnancy depends on the amount of damage to the fallopian tube, and the health of the tubes. However, even after a ectopic pregnancy it is entirely possible to have a normal pregnancy.[5]

References[change | edit source]

  1. A.D.A.M Editorial Board. "Ectopic Pregnancy." PubMed Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov. 0000. Web. 21 May 2012.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. "Ectopic Pregnancy: Risk Factors." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 09 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 May 2012.
  3. Mayo Clinic. "Ectopic Pregnancy: Symptoms." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 09 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 May 2012.
  4. Healthwise Staff. "Ectopic (Tubal) Pregnancy Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention." WebMD. WebMD, Jan. 2009. Web. 22 May 2012.
  5. Healthwise Staff. "Fertility After Ectopic Pregnancy." WebMD. WebMD, 03 May 2000. Web. 22 May 2012.