What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Women’s health & fitness guide

An Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy which develops outside of the womb most usually in the fallopian tubes though it can occur in other parts of the reproductive system. Other common sites for the pregnancy to develop are the uterus, cervix, the abdominal cavity and the ovaries.

How does this happen and why? Normally when fertilised the egg will go down the fallopian tubes into the womb, it will then grow in size until it forms what is called the blastocyst, this is what the embryo and placenta will develop from. Within days of conceiving the blastocyst will attach itself to the lining of the womb however if for any reason there is a delay in this happening then the blastocyst will be ready for attachment before it has reached the womb.

This will then more than likely result in an Ectopic pregnancy. There is a risk to the women’s health should they have an Ectopic pregnancy with most of them relating to the fallopian tubes being damaged or altered.

What are the symptoms of Ectopic pregnancy?

Most of the symptoms of Ectopic pregnancy will show very early on in the pregnancy with a lot of Ectopic pregnancies leading to miscarriage; however this is not always the case. However if the Ectopic pregnancy occurs within the abdominal region then it can go on for some time before symptoms begin to show.

During the first 12 weeks symptoms of Ectopic pregnancy will show as vaginal bleeding or spotting and abdominal pain, other symptoms can develop and one in particular should be watched for as this is sometimes a clear sign that the pregnancy is Ectopic and this is dizziness and shoulder tip pain. Both of these symptoms can suggest that there is very heavy internal bleeding and a doctor’s advice should be sought immediately.

How is Ectopic pregnancy confirmed?

The signs and symptoms of Ectopic pregnancy are very similar to those of normal pregnancy and early miscarriage so they hard to pick up on, however your doctor should give your abdomen and pelvis a very careful examination.

A lot of times this examination will also include an internal examination, though if you have suffered from miscarriage in the past your doctor may be inclined not to give you an internal as there is a risk of inducing a miscarriage. If through the examination your doctor thinks your pregnancy may be Ectopic he/she will suggest that you have an ultrasound scan to determine if you are having a normal or Ectopic pregnancy.

What is the treatment for Ectopic pregnancy?

There are basically two methods of dealing with the Ectopic pregnancy, the first of these involves an operation called a laparoscopy and the pregnancy along with surrounding tissue will be removed and the second involves medication by an intramuscular injection.

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