Ectopic Pregnancy: Complication, Detection & Treatment

What is ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy is a complication in pregnancy which occurs when the fertilized egg instead of attaching inside the uterus, gets attached to some other place like fallopian tubes, abdominal space, ovary, or even the cervix.

Ectopic pregnancy is also termed as tubal pregnancies as mostly all ectopic pregnancies happen in the fallopian tube, a tube which helps to transfer eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. The fallopian tube although allow an egg to implant to its side, but cannot hold growing embryo as the tube doesn’t have a suitable condition for embryo growth. The fertilized egg in a tubal pregnancy cannot mature properly & so must be treated. According to estimation approx 1 out of 50 pregnancies is ectopic.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy is generally induced by the causes listed below

  1. Abnormal tube shape – Abnormal fallopian tube growth or abnormality by birth leads to abnormal tube shape; hindering the process of egg transfer to the womb
  2. Fallopian tube infection or inflammation – Infection/inflammation of fallopian tube makes it partially or completely blocked
  3. Surgical history – Prior surgery in the pelvic area or on the tubes can cause sticking.
  4. Scar – Scar tissue on the tube may also obstruct the egg’s movement.

Who is at risk to have an ectopic pregnancy?

Recognized & accurate risk factors of ectopic pregnancy are still not known, but few of them are listed below

  1. Women with a damaged fallopian tube owing to past surgery history.
  2. Women suffering from pelvic inflammatory diseases(PID), a disease affecting the tiny hairs which are responsible for carrying the eggs into the womb.
  3. Women who already have had a prior ectopic pregnancy
  4. Women with age more than 35 are more likely to experience an ectopic pregnancy
  5. Women consuming mini pill aka progesterone only pill(POP)
  6. Women using a contraceptive coil (IUD)
  7. Women with a smoking habit
  8. Women Undergone fertility treatments or are using fertility medications

Sign & Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy in its initial stage show typical pregnancy sign &symptoms like missed menstrual cycle period, frequent urination, vomiting, fatigue, sore breasts, etc.
As the pregnancy advances, ectopic pregnancy shows varied symptoms and signs listed below

  1. Critical & sharp pelvic or abdominal pain
  2. Tiredness, dizziness or fainting
  3. Excessive vaginal bleeding
  4. Gastrointestinal indications
  5. Excessive sweating

Sharp pain and excessive vaginal bleeding arise when the ectopic pregnancy has ruptured and is a medical emergency that requires quick treatment, else can lead to death.

How can we detect ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is difficult to diagnose, as indications can relate to any other regular pregnancy. In situations where the signs are pretty obvious, the following diagnosis methods are used:

Vaginal ultrasound: This test verifies the position of the fertilized egg and therefore assists in diagnosing whether it is a natural or ectopic pregnancy.

Blood tests: This is performed when the ectopic pregnancy is not recognized through an ultrasound.

Keyhole surgery: This is a simplistic laparoscopic method that makes it easier to view the cervix and fallopian tube easier. This guides you of cervix pregnancy if any.

Treatment for ectopic pregnancy

If an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed, below listed are the ways to treat it:

Expectant management
Expectant management is a condition in which with precise monitoring, the fertilized egg may just dissolve and discharge itself naturally.

If expectant monitoring fails doctor may prescribe an injection with methotrexate medicine, which prevents the pregnancy from growing more.

keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) to performed to remove the fertilized egg. A general anesthetic is used in this surgery. Removal of the affected fallopian tube is generally done in this surgery.

Will I still be able to have a baby in the future?

In most of the cases, women suffered from ectopic pregnancy are still able to have a normal pregnancy. But couples should normally wait for at least 3 months before taking chance so as to heal emotionally as well as physically.