Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy symptoms - Today's Parent

Learn the risk factors and treatment options for this condition that can mimic a normal pregnancy. Aug 29, 2014 Courtney Manser 4 Photo: iStockphoto


When trying to conceive, there’s nothing greater than seeing those two pink lines. But occasionally an ectopic pregnancy can occur, where the embryo implants outside the uterus, usually within a fallopian tube, which, in a normal pregnancy, is supposed to transport the fertilized egg to the uterus. In very rare cases, an embryo can also attach to the cervix or an ovary or organ in the abdomen. Sadly, an ectopic pregnancy isn’t viable, and early diagnosis with an ultrasound is crucial to minimize any health or fertility complications. Here’s what you need to know.


Ectopic pregnancy symptoms: “Early on this condition can be asymptomatic or mimic normal pregnancy—women may have nausea and vomiting as well as breast tenderness,” says Brock McKinney, an OB/GYN in Orillia, Ont. A woman may experience one or more of the following symptoms: vaginal spotting or bleeding, abdominal or pelvic pain, which is usually one-sided and can vary from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation. In instances of severe pain, explains McKinney, the ectopic pregnancy has likely grown large enough that it has burst the fallopian tube and requires immediate medical attention, (shock, which can be fatal, often develops at this stage, with symptoms like having shortness of breath or heart palpitations). But McKinney warns, “In up to 50 percent of women who have a tube rupture, there are no warnings signs such as mild pain or vaginal bleeding.”


Risk factors: The biggest risk factor for ectopic pregnancy is having already had one, which increases your chances by 15 percent; 25 percent if you’ve previously had two. Other factors include scarring from surgery on your fallopian tubes or other pelvic organs, a history of endometriosis, sexually transmitted infections, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or infertility. Contrary to popular belief, an intrauterine device (IUD) does not elevate your chances, says McKinney, who notes that up to half of the women who experience this condition have none of these risk factors.


The treatment: In very rare cases, some women don’t require treatment but will be monitored closely through blood work and ultrasound. “This is only an option in very early ectopic pregnancies that the body has started to absorb on its own, where the pregnancy hormone is very low and on the decline,” says McKinney. A medication called methotrexate, which is administered by injection and works by dissolving the pregnancy, is typically recommended for women whose condition is caught early enough—often around six-week mark—that they don’t require surgery and don’t have other risk factors. This treatment requires a patient to be monitored by a doctor until her pregnancy hormone levels return to zero to ensure it’s has been successful.


If an ectopic pregnancy is caught after six weeks, or if you don’t meet the methotrexate criteria or are at risk of internal bleeding caused by a ruptured tube, then surgery is the next step. “The gynaecologist can either remove the tube with the ectopic pregnancy inside, or make an incision in the tube and remove it that way,” says McKinney. “The choice between the two options depends on the patient’s preference and how damaged the tube is at the time of surgery.” If a tube is cut—a procedure called a salpingostomy—then a patient must be followed by her doctor to ensure tissue has stopped developing. The surgery is typically done laparoscopically and only takes a few days of recovery.


The effects on fertility: Your chance of conceiving following an ectopic pregnancy may not be reduced, even if one of your fallopian tubes is damaged or removed, according to Jackie Thomas, an OB/GYN at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. For example, if your left ovary releases an egg but your left tube is no longer in tact, the egg can still be taken in by your right tube, which could lead to conception. However, because you’re at a greater risk for future ectopic pregnancies, it’s critical to tell your OB/GYN about your history if you become pregnant again so you can be properly monitored.


Age and fertility should also be considered when trying to conceive after an ectopic pregnancy. For example, if you’re 38, you probably don’t want to try for too long without consulting a fertility clinic, says Thomas. She notes that recent evidence suggests women having IVF following an ectopic pregnancy may have decreased fertility rates, but it’s still unknown if that’s due to the pre-existing fertility issues that initially caused the ectopic pregnancy, or if the condition itself caused the infertility.


The most advanced ectopic pregnancy McKinney has seen was around 10 weeks in a woman who’d two previous normal pregnancies. “The fallopian tube wasn t ruptured, but given the advanced gestation, she required surgery, which is when we discovered her tube was on the brink of rupture. It was removed without complications, and she went home a few hours after surgery, and she subsequently had another normal pregnancy.”


If you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy and wish to try to conceive again, speak with your doctor about when you can start trying as the suggested time may vary depending on your treatment or complications. Often times, it’s as soon as your next period, the start of your cycle. Remember: A past ectopic pregnancy doesn’t mean all hope is lost; it shows that your body is capable of getting pregnant. “Just try again,” says Thomas. “There’s an 85-percent chance you’ll have a normal pregnancy.” shares Share: Facebook Twitter Email Advertisement Advertisement Show comments Hide comments (4) 4 comments on Ectopic pregnancy symptoms


I had an ectopic pregnancy, attached to my ovary and found at 9 weeks. This is after a round of artificial insemination. Horrible pain in my shoulder, nausea, extended stomach, had a 4 day period then they found the heart beat via an ultrasound, embryo attached to my right ovary. Emergency surgery the next day. Extremely rare. I did not lose my ovary. This took place in 2004. And I went on to have (2) biological children (2008 and 2009) . Ectopic pregnancies are so scary and sad. But you can and will get past it. Reply Sarah on October 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm


I did not know that I was pregnant but I knew there was something very wrong with me when i went to the emergency department. The nursing staff was very kind but wouldn t tell me what was going on. After several ultrasounds and a transfer to another hospital i was finally told what was happening to me. I was rushed to surgery with a ruptured fallopian tube. I ended spending the night in the hospital, so did my husband as he slept on the floor beside my hospital bed! My experience happened so quickly that I wasn t able to process what had happened. Seven years later and two successful pregnancies added to the two boys before the ectopic pregnancy the experience still remains a blurr. Reply jenn on October 7, 2014 at 1:01 pm


I had an ectopic in June of 1998 which ended in having surgery as it was about to rupture. I had tremendous pain. Almost exactly a year later, I had another one on the other side. This one was found earlier and I had methotrexate to end that one. I had a successful pregnancy in 1995, so having these two after getting pregnant so easily was quite a shock. In November of 1999 I had exploratory surgery to see what was going on. They discovered nothing wrong with my tubes, although one ovary was stuck to my bowel. I have never been pregnant since. My husband and I tried for years to have another child, but we were not so lucky. I gave up trying when my daughter turned six. We re happy, but I would ve loved another child for her to play with. She will never know the experience of having a sibling. I know how devastating it is to lose a baby. How it feels to not even know the sex of the baby. You can t even give it a name because you don t know the sex! I struggled for years after. Looking back now, I can see how depressed I actually was.


I know life goes on and we do get past it , but I don t think you ever forget. And in my case, I had no one to talk to, nobody I knew was willing to listen. The subject was off limits in my family. Pretty sad, considering I have siblings and I wanted so much for my daughter to have one! Thank goodness I have a very close bond with my only child. It s been 15 years since my last pregnancy and I still wonder what sex they were among other things. Reply Lyn on October 15, 2014 at 4:41 pm


The previous ectopic pregnancy may cause adverse effects. The disorder symptoms may be bleeding, nausea, and vomiting. Let’s have a discussion about it and find the right treatments and remedies to get the desired outcome. Reply Sarahjeffries on June 17, 2015 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment Cancel reply Sign in to comment.You're logged in as . Logout.Loading profile...Unexpected error. Please try again.Notice: Your email may not yet have been verified. Please check your email, click the link to verify your address, and then submit your comment. If you can't find this email, access your profile editor to re-send the confirmation email. You must have a verified email to submit a comment. Once you have done so, check again.Your commentName * Email * Top Follow us Facebook Pinterest Pin It Twitter Instagram (follow only) Resources About Contact Advertise Site Map Create a new password


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