In a normal pregnancy, the egg will travel down the fallopian tube and embed itself into the uterus. In an ectopic pregnancy, however, the zygote will implant into another area in the mother’s body, usually in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies can sometimes occur in the ovaries, abdomen, or cervix, but this is very rare. Ectopic pregnancies can be extremely dangerous, because as the embryo grows, it can rupture whatever organ it has implanted itself into, causing most women to abort the pregnancy for the safety of herself and her unborn child.
Ectopic pregnancy symptoms can vary, but women should consult a doctor immediately if they suspect they might have an ectopic pregnancy, because if it progresses without treatment, it can turn into a serious, life-threatening condition. That is why it is so important that a woman who suspects that something is wrong with her pregnancy should seek immediate help from a medical professional.
Tubal Pregnancies Often Appear Normal at First
Sometime these pregnancies are called tubal pregnancies, and they put the health of mothers in jeopardy. Early detection of this condition requires immediately ending the pregnancy. The longer the pregnancy continues, the more likely irreversible damage to the reproductive organs will occur.
Expectant mothers who exhibit unusual warning signs should have their doctors test for the condition, but many symptoms mirror the normal signs of pregnancy. These indicators include the following signs.
Signs of Normal or Ectopic Pregnancy
- Morning sickness
- Breast tenderness
- Increased urination
- Missed period
- Feeling fatigued or tired
Eventually, the symptoms will become more severe, indicating something is wrong. These signs could also indicate miscarriage or other health problems, so women should carefully monitor their health.
Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms
- Usually, women will know something is wrong. The normal pregnancy symptoms might seem very severe.
- Pain in the abdomen that increases with movement indicates a possible problem.
- Intercourse might be unusually painful.
- Sudden, sharp pains might occur on one side of the body.
- Bleeding or spotting often occurs.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness could indicate internal bleeding.
Women with these symptoms should let their doctors know about them right away. Women should also inform their doctors if they have had any previous ectopic pregnancies or surgeries that could increase their risks.
Risk Factors for Ectopic Pregnancies
Fallopian tube damage increases the chances for ectopic pregnancies, because eggs could get stuck and implant near the areas of blockage. Women over 35 also experience greater risk. Various conditions can cause damage to the tubes, including the following situations.
- Smoking increases the chances of an abnormal pregnancy.
- Sexually transmitted diseases could cause fallopian tube damage.
- Women exposed to the chemical DES before birth could be at risk.
- Women who have had prior tubal pregnancies are more likely to encounter the problem again.
- Fertility treatments increase the chances of abnormal pregnancy.
- Surgery on the fallopian tubes or reproductive organs constitute another possible threat to successful pregnancy.
Tubal pregnancy must be ended with medicine or surgery. Surgery increases risks for future pregnancies, so early detection could be important. Medicine can terminate tubal pregnancies in the early stages, usually without complications. One or more shots of a medication called methotrexate will end pregnancy before tubal damage can occur. Return visits to the doctor are necessary to confirm the medicine has worked, and the medication could cause side effects.
Ectopic pregnancy after the first few weeks requires surgery as the safest method of termination. Laparoscopy involves surgery through a smaller, less invasive incision. Emergency situations, when the mothers’ health is in jeopardy, might require larger incisions.
Women naturally suffer depression after miscarriages, but if the depression lasts more than a few weeks, they should seek help and counseling. Women who suffer tubal pregnancies can conceive normally and carry successfully to term, but they should remain aware of the risks and keep their doctors informed for early detection of any problems.