Ectopic pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Ectopic pregnancy

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

A normal pregnancy is one where an egg comes in contact with a sperm and gets fertilized in the fallopian tube. This fertilized egg, then travels to the uterus, where it attaches itself of the lining and continues to grow in the uterus until delivery.

An Ectopic pregnancy on the other hand, is one when a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube or anywhere else outside the uterus. This cannot be predicted in advance. 1 in every 50 pregnancies turns out to be “ectopic” - meaning out of place. There's no possible way to move an ectopic foetus into your uterus. And ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening as they can rupture the place they are implanted in - most likely the fallopian tubes, resulting in a loss of blood. Hence, ending the pregnancy is the only option.

Causes of an ectopic pregnancy

Usually, after conception, the fertilized egg travels down one of the fallopian tubes enroute to your uterus. In the event that the tube is damaged, blocked or simply fails to move the egg along, it may become implant in the tube and continue to develop there.

Understand that an ectopic pregnancy is dangerous if it isn't diagnosed and treated. The embryo could continue to grow till the fallopian tube ruptures, which will in turn result in severe abdominal pain and bleeding. This may cause the woman to lose the tube forever and can in extreme cases, even lead to death. Hence, it is essential that it be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Ectopic pregnancy symptoms

A lot of the time, an ectopic pregnancy happens during the first few weeks of pregnancy when you may not even know you're pregnant.

The first symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy usually are light vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain. You may also experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Pain on one side of your body
  • Fatigue and Dizziness
  • Pain in shoulder or rectum

It might be a bit tricky to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy till you go for an ultrasound of the baby because it presents like any other pregnancy in the beginning. Your gynecologist will be able to tell if your symptoms suggest this, and by doing an ultrasound and/or a blood test, this can be verified.

Is it possible to have a normal pregnancy after I've had an ectopic one?

Yes, it certainly is. But, it is important that you’ve ended your ectopic pregnancy early on, in that it did not damage any of your tubes, etc. This gives you a greater chance of carrying your baby all the way through. In the unfortunate event that you did lose one of your tubes, as long as your other tube is still normal, you may not require any reproductive assistance to get pregnant.

Dealing with the loss

You will probably be devastated by your loss. It’s as good as losing a baby. And to make matters worse, it may get more difficult for you to conceive again. You would’ve also undergone major surgery, leaving you exhausted and suffering a hormonal crash which could leave you feeling depressed as well. Take your time to recuperate, both emotionally and physically before immersing yourself in everyday life. Some people find that immersing oneself is exactly what they need. It is advisable however, to heal yourself a bit before getting pregnant again.