What is ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy (EP) is also known as tubal pregnancy . It  is a condition in which a fertilized egg settles and grows in any location other than the inner lining of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy cannot proceed normally  and the fertilized egg cannot survive. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal.


ectopic pregnancy


What are the causes ?

It  is often caused by a blockage or slow movement of  the fertilized egg into the fallopian tube due to an inflamed or damaged fallopian tube. Other conditions such as complications from raptured appendix, endometriosis , smoking and scarring from past infections may be the cause.


Am I at risk ?


Factors that increase your risk for ectopic pregnancy includes :

  • some fertility treatment
  • previous ectopic pregnancy
  • birth defect in fallopian tube
  • cigarette smoking
  • endometriosis
  • sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia
  • surgery to untie tubes in order to get pregnant
  • previous exposure  to the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol) in her mother’s pregnancy
  • scarring from surgery of the female organs


What are the signs ?


Ectopic pregnancy may be asymptomatic in the early stages of pregnancy. If symptoms occur however , they may include  missed period, breast tenderness and nausea. Signs of ectopic pregnancy typically occur six to eight weeks after the last normal menstrual period. If  the ectopic pregnancy is not located in the Fallopian tube symptoms may occur later. Signs usually include pelvic and abdominal pain and abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Other symptoms includes :

  • shoulder pain and severe
  • low blood pressure
  • sharp and sudden pain in the lower abdomen
  • fainting
  • intense pressure in the rectum

Ectopic pregnancy can lead to internal bleeding which in turn leads to shock and possibly death

Content Sources
Ectopic pregnancy . WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-ectopic-pregnancy. Accessed June 11, 2014
Ectopic pregnancy. The Nemours Foundation. Accessed June 11, 2014
Ectopic pregnancy. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000895.htm. Accessed June 11, 2014
Ectopic pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/ectopicpregnancy.html. Accessed June 11, 2014

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