What Is Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy can be a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. It occurs when the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus where it becomes nonviable.

Getting an ultrasound is recommended to rule out ectopic pregnancy. Free medical care at Attleboro Women’s Health includes limited ultrasounds to help protect your health and safety.

What Is Ectopic Pregnancy?

In a typical pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants and grows on the uterus wall. Occasionally, an embryo implants outside the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy. 

An ectopic pregnancy cannot survive, and if left untreated, it can cause life-threatening bleeding for the woman.

While ectopic pregnancy can happen to anyone, several risk factors increase the likelihood of ectopic pregnancy. Risk factors for ectopic pregnancy can include: 

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Scar tissue in the fallopian tubes from infection or surgery
  • Smoking
  • Becoming pregnant while using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control or after a tubal ligation

An ectopic pregnancy begins normally; a woman will miss her monthly menstrual period and have a positive pregnancy test. Early symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy can include light vaginal bleeding and mild pelvic pain. 

As the pregnancy develops, a woman experiencing an ectopic pregnancy might have symptoms such as abdominal or pelvic pain with bleeding, lightheadedness or fainting, and shoulder pain. 

How Is Ectopic Pregnancy Diagnosed?

An ultrasound is the only way to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy. This diagnostic imaging will allow the provider to see into a woman’s pelvis to locate the embryo. 

Early diagnosis is critical in ectopic pregnancy, as this can lessen the chances that a woman experiences severe side effects. 

A woman should not wait until she has symptoms of ectopic pregnancy before she receives an ultrasound, as early diagnosis can mean less invasive treatment methods.

Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancy

If an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed early, treatment will involve medication to stop the embryo’s growth.

Surgery might be indicated to remove the embryo in cases where the medication does not work, or when the embryo has grown too large. Surgery may be indicated if the ectopic pregnancy has caused bleeding. 

Surgery to remove the embryo is usually laparoscopic, which means it is less invasive than traditional surgery, and it uses small abdominal incisions and cameras to guide the surgeons. In some cases, the tube in which the pregnancy is located can remain intact, but in other cases, it will need to be removed.

Ectopic pregnancies in the fallopian tubes can cause complications when the tube begins to bleed or burst from the pressure of the growing embryo. When this happens, life-saving surgery will be required to remove the embryo, tube, and bleeding.  

Free Ultrasounds

Prioritize your health. Make an appointment today for a free limited ultrasound to locate your pregnancy.