What is ectopic pregnancy?

For a woman to get pregnant, a fertilized egg must travel to the uterus to attach itself. This isn’t the case for ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere else aside from the uterus. It could be in the fallopian tube, abdominal cavity, or cervix.

While ectopic pregnancy may reveal a positive pregnancy test, it doesn’t really end up in a successful pregnancy. A fertilized egg can’t fully develop in an area other than the uterus.

Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy

There are several possible causes of ectopic pregnancy. It can be due to hormones, genetic abnormalities, and medical conditions affecting the fallopian tubes.

Women with a maternal age of 35 or older are at higher risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy. There is also a higher risk in women who have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pelvic or abnormal surgery, and endometriosis.

Smoking and the use of fertility drugs may also increase one’s chance of having an ectopic pregnancy.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are nausea and breast soreness. One may also experience light to heavy vaginal bleeding, rectal pressure, dizziness, and sharp, severe pain on one side of the abdomen. Pain may also be felt in other areas such as the pelvis, shoulder, or neck.

Ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency if left unmanaged. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to see an OB-GYN doctor immediately.

Treating Ectopic Pregnancy

Treatment plans for ectopic pregnancy could vary from one patient to another. It would depend on the location of the ectopic pregnancy and its development.

A treatment plan for ectopic pregnancy may include:

  • Medication

If the doctor thinks that immediate complications are less unlikely to happen, he/she may prescribe medications that would keep the ectopic mass from bursting (an example of this is a drug called methotrexate).

When the medication is effective, it can produce symptoms similar to having a miscarriage. These symptoms may include cramping, bleeding, and the passing of tissue.

  • Surgery

Some doctors may suggest surgery to remove the embryo and repair any internal damage. This procedure is called a laparotomy.

At Women’s Healthcare of Norman, we have specialists who are experienced in diagnosing and treating ectopic pregnancy. If you suspect your pregnancy is an ectopic one, please give us a call at (405) 360-1264.