What is an ectopic pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg (ovum) implants itself in an organ other than the uterus. Often, it is implanted in one of the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. The fallopian tubes are tubes which transport the egg to the uterus and hence, if it gets stuck in the tube, the egg would not be able to survive.
This condition may be life-threatening and hence, immediate medical attention is needed. Unfortunately, the pregnancy cannot be saved. Losing a pregnancy is tough and hence, giving yourself time and seeking professional help may help you through the recovery process.
How Can I Tell If I Am Having an Ectopic Pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy may not necessarily cause symptoms but around the 4th to 12th week of the pregnancy, symptoms may start to surface.
- Signs of Pregnancy
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Discomfort when urinating or pooping
- Sudden, sharp, and intense pain in your stomach
- Feeling extremely dizzy or faint
- Pelvic pain
Seek immediate emergency help if you face these symptoms. A pregnancy test will still show that you are pregnant even if it is an ectopic pregnancy.
Risk factors of an Ectopic Pregnancy?
There are certain risk factors that increase one’s chances of having an ectopic pregnancy.
These risk factors are:
- Having had a previous ectopic pregnancy
- Inflammation or infection
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Tubal surgery.
- Smoking just before you get pregnant can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
- History of pelvic, abdominal surgery
- History of multiple abortions
- History of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis
- Fertilisation which occurred despite tubal ligation or the use of an intrauterine device
- Structural abnormalities in the fallopian tubes
How is an Ectopic Pregnancy Diagnosed?
An ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed through a few tests. These tests may include an ultrasound scan, blood tests, pelvic examination, and a pregnancy test.
This may enable the doctor to identify a mass in the fallopian tube or ovary but an ectopic pregnancy cannot be diagnosed through this test alone.
A pregnancy test would be conducted to confirm the pregnancy.
A transvaginal ultrasound would allow the doctor to observe the exact location of your pregnancy. Images of your uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes would be formed and sent to a monitor. Through this, an ectopic pregnancy can be confirmed.
Can I Undergo Treatment for an Ectopic Pregnancy?
Treatment for an ectopic pregnancy would not save the pregnancy but would help prevent any life-threatening complications to occur.
Three main treatments are usually given:
- Expectant management → you’re monitored carefully and if the fertilised egg does not dissolve by itself, one of the treatments below would be given.
- Medication → a strong medicine called methotrexate is injected into your body to stop the egg from growing.
- Surgery → is performed to remove the fertilised egg along with the affected fallopian tube.
If the ectopic pregnancy is in its early stages without unstable bleeding, it is often treated with methotrexate, which prevents cell growth and dissolves existing cells. The condition will then be monitored through another pregnancy test.
Side effects: dizziness, drowsiness, swollen gums, reddened eyes, hair loss, headache, decreased appetite
Surgery (Laparoscopic procedure)
In this procedure, a small incision is made in the abdomen and a laparoscope is used to view the tubal area. The fertilised egg and at times, the fallopian tube will be removed together.
Side effects: fever, vomiting and nausea, swelling at the incision site, abdominal pain, vaginal discharge or bleeding, dizziness
Going through this is definitely a devastating process and you and your loved ones may feel extremely lost. Be sure to seek help when you need it and ensure that you give yourself enough time to recover from your loss. You can attend support groups, and counseling sessions or obtain professional support.
Ectopic pregnancy is a serious threat to both mother and child, but fortunately, it can be detected early on if you know the warning signs. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, don’t hesitate to seek medical help immediately.
By increasing awareness of this condition, we can save lives. please share this blog post with anyone who might need it.