In a normal pregnancy, the egg that the ovaries release enters the fallopian tube. If a sperm fertilises it, the fertilised egg attaches itself inside the uterus. However, sometimes the fertilised egg can attach itself outside the uterus. This condition is called ectopic pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy can be detected in the first few weeks of the pregnancy itself. If your doctor does discover ectopic pregnancy, you would need immediate medical attention. Ectopic pregnancies can be sad and scary. The survival rate of the baby is extremely low, and you may need some time to get over your loss. Fortunately, one ectopic pregnancy doesn't mean you can never conceive again. Many women who lost their first baby to ectopic pregnancy have been able to have a healthy and normal pregnancy the second time around.
The causes of ectopic pregnancy include:
- An inflammation or infection of the fallopian tube can lead it to become entirely or partially blocked.
- Scar tissue from a surgery or an infection of the fallopian tube may also hinder the movement of the fertilised egg.
- Surgery in the tubes or pelvic areas in the past might cause adhesions.
- Birth defects or abnormal growths can cause anomalies in the shape of the tube.
These causes are usually followed by certain risk factors, such as:
- Age (The age group of 35-44 especially)
- An ectopic pregnancy in the past
- Previous abdominal or pelvic surgery
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Several prompted abortions
- Conceiving with an intrauterine device in place
- Endometriosis (growth of uterus lining tissues outside the uterus).
- Fertility treatments.
The signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include:
- Minimal vaginal bleeding
- Vomiting and nausea with pain
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Sharp cramps in the abdomen
- Localised pain (Pain concentrated on one side of your body)
- Pain in your neck, rectum or shoulder
- Rupture of the fallopian tubes can cause fainting due to the bleeding and pain
The treatment of ectopic pregnancy can be any one of the following:
- If the pregnancy has not progressed too far, methotrexate will be administered. This absorbs the pregnancy tissue and can save the fallopian tubes.
- The tubes may be removed if they have ruptured or stretched, and have started bleeding.
- Laparoscopic surgery (operations performed by making minor incisions) may be performed to remove or repair the tubes and recover the ectopic pregnancy.