Ectopic pregnancy is an abnormal condition wherein the fertilized egg stays in the fallopian tube instead of moving into the uterus and attaching it to the uterus lining. Affecting one woman out of every 50 is a dangerous condition wherein the fallopian tube stretches with time, causing terrible pain in the abdomen and pelvic area.
Signs and Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy
The symptoms that form the basis of the diagnosis of Ectopic pregnancy are:
- Unusual abdominal pain
- Mild or abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe, sharp pain in the lower abdomen
- Dizziness and fainting
- Low Blood Pressure
- Abnormal bleeding
- Stabbing pain in shoulder and neck
- Sharp pain in the pelvis
Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy is often caused due defects in the fallopian tube that hinders the movement of the fertilized egg into the uterus. It might also be caused due to congenital abnormality in the fallopian tube or might also result from an unsuccessful tubal ligation.
Below are some more health conditions responsible for ectopic pregnancy:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Infertility treatments like IVF
- Suffering from Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID)
- Use of intrauterine device (IUD) during sexual intercourse
- Surgery in the fallopian tube and pelvic treatments
- Endometriosis (propagation of the endometrial tissue in the uterus lining) and fibroid tumors
- Women who are addicted to smoking and already have a medical history of ectopic pregnancy are at high risk of having a similar experience.
Diagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy diagnosis begins with a pelvic examination. Symptoms like localized pain and tenderness in the abdomen are tested. Your doctor also senses for any growth inside the ovary and fallopian tube.
Then ultrasound is performed to check for pregnancy in the uterus approximately after six weeks of periods. A blood test is done to measure hCG levels. A low level of hCG and progesterone is an indication of ectopic pregnancy.
Bleeding from a ruptured fallopian tube is detected by a special diagnostic procedure known as culdocentesis. Your doctor will perform a localized inspection inside the topmost part of the vagina with the help of a needle.
Under emergency conditions like unbearable pain in the lower abdomen or profuse bleeding from the vagina, the patient should be immediately rushed to the hospital, and surgery might be the only safe option.
Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancy
Various options for treatment include:
If the ectopic pregnancy has been detected early, then medication like methotrexate is injected to halt growth and progression of the tissue and dissolve the growth.
hCG levels are monitored and normalized with drugs, and other minor abnormalities are treated after a series of blood tests.
The ectopic tissue formed and minor damage in the fallopian tube is repaired easily with laparoscopic surgery.
If the fallopian tube, as well as the ovary, is damaged completely, then they are removed surgically.
What to Expect After Ectopic Pregnancy?
Your doctor will let you know about your chances of getting pregnant in the future, as well as the risks associated with it. However, if your fallopian tube is functional after the treatment, you can normally conceive after 6-7 months gap. You can also successfully conceive if you are have recovered from STDs (if it was the cause of your ectopic pregnancy).
Preventive Measures for Ectopic Pregnancy
Congenital defects are not under your control. However, several factors reduce the risks of ectopic pregnancy. Limit your sexual partners and always have safe sex. Use protections, especially condoms, to guard yourself against STDs and STIs. Quit smoking to conceive without complication.
Losing a baby is a challenge to deal with, thus express your feelings to your loved ones and receive emotional support. Consult with your doctor and hope for good news in the future.