What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tube. This is a dangerous medical condition as the egg cannot develop properly and there is a risk of life-threatening complications. It affects approximately 2% of all pregnancies.
Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms
* Abnormal vaginal bleeding
* Low back pain that may become more acute on one side
* Shoulder tip pain
* Abdominal pain
* Pelvic cramping
* Nausea and vomiting
* Lightheadedness or feeling faint
* Shortness of breath
Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy
The most common cause of ectopic pregnancy is a blocked or damaged fallopian tube. Other causes include pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, uterine abnormalities or a history of abdominal surgery.
Diagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancy
If an ectopic pregnancy is suspected, you may need to have a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and lab tests. The ultrasound is usually performed transvaginally and it can show an ectopic pregnancy. In some cases a laparoscopic surgical procedure may be required to make a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancy
Treatment options for ectopic pregnancy depend on the health of the mother and medical condition of the pregnancy. If the fallopian tube has ruptured, then surgery is necessary to repair the damage. However, in cases where the fallopian tube has not ruptured, medication may be used to stop the growth of the pregnancy in order to avoid surgery.
Health Risks Associated with Ectopic Pregnancy
If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can lead to internal bleeding and possibly death. In addition, there are risks associated with surgery including infection, anesthesia, and damage to the fallopian tube or other organs.
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy and to seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and the unborn child.