|

Ectopic Pregnancy

This occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterine cavity. The vast majority of ectopic pregnancies are in the fallopian tube, but they can occur on an ovary, in the cervix, or in the abdominal cavity at the site of a previous cesarean.

Causes

Any woman can have an ectopic pregnancy. However, the risk of an etopic pregnancy is increased if you have had a pelvic infection; became pregnant with a progesterone-releasing IUD in place, while taking the mini-pill, or as a result of fertility treatment; have endometriosis; have had abdominal surgery such as a cesarean section; or a previous ectopic pregnancy.

Symptoms

Most women who have an ectopic pregnancy will notice pain and light bleeding at 6-8 weeks (2-4 weeks after a missed period). The pain is usually felt on one side of the lower abdomen and it may be severe and persistent. If an ectopic pregnancy is not recognized early and an embryo growing in the fallopian tube ruptures the tube, you may feel sudden severe pain that spreads across the abdomen. Internal bleeding from a ruptured tube can also irritate the diaphragm, causing shoulder pain. If you have severe lower abdominal pain, call your doctor and go immediately to the emergency room.

What might be done

If the tube has ruptured, then you will be taken straight to surgery. Usually, an ectopic pregnancy is suspected before this stage. In this case you will have an ultrasound scan, usually performed through the vagina, which often diagnoses the problem; there will be no baby in the uterus; blood may be seen in the abdomen; and sometimes the ectopic pregnancy itself can be seen. You may also have blood tests taken over a period of 48 hours to monitor the levels of hCG (the pregnancy hormone); if levels of hCG plateau or rise slightly, this indicates an ectopic pregnancy. If an ectopic pregnancy has not been confirmed by these investigations, you will probably be taken to surgery for a laparoscopy, a procedure where a telescope is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen, allowing the surgeon to see exactly what is happening. If there is an ectopic, and if the tube is still intact, the surgeon may make a tiny hole in it and remove the embryo or, if the tube has burst, he may remove part or all of it. Occasionally, ectopics may be treated medically with a drug called methotrexate, which stops the pregnancy from developing. This is only appropriate if the hCG levels are low and the tube hasn't ruptured. The advantage is that surgery is avoided; however, the treatment doesn't always work, can be associated with significant pain, and close follow-up is vital.

excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
Buy this book now!

Pregnancy Day by Day

Tell us your due date to receive our daily newsletter and find out what is happening in this day of your pregnancy!

Already a member? Log-in here

highlights

Bug Off! 6 Tick- and Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Which bug bites are dangerous? Learn about 6 diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes, the signs and symptoms, and treatment options if someone in your family gets infected.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Top 10 Backyard Party Games for All Ages
Looking for some fun outdoor games for your Fourth of July party or barbecue? Check out these awesome group games, from sack races to cornhole, to make your backyard a kid-friendly party spot!

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

© 2000-2015  Sandbox Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.