If you are pregnant, knowing ectopic pregnancy symptoms can be lifesaving. It’s crucial to report any signs of ectopic pregnancy to your doctor ASAP.
When a woman becomes pregnant, a fertilized egg adheres to the wall of her uterus, where it grows over nine months from an embryo to a full-term baby. At least, that’s what happens most of the time. Unfortunately, in about one to two percent of pregnancies, a fertilized egg is implanted and grows outside of the uterus. This is called an ectopic pregnancy.
What is ectopic pregnancy?
Rarely, an ectopic pregnancy occurs in the abdominal cavity, an ovary, or the cervix (the neck of the uterus). However, an ectopic pregnancy usually occurs in a fallopian tube — and the small size of a fallopian tube makes it impossible for the embryo to develop normally into a baby.
It also means the pregnant woman is at serious risk. That’s because, as the embryo grows, the fallopian tube can burst, causing potentially life-threatening internal bleeding.
If you are pregnant, it’s important to recognize the ectopic pregnancy symptoms and report them to your doctor immediately so you can be tested for the condition and, if you do have an ectopic pregnancy, have immediate treatment.
Are you at risk for ectopic pregnancy?
Women who are 35 or older when they become pregnant are at increased risk for ectopic pregnancy. Smoking cigarettes and undergoing infertility treatments also increase the odds of ectopic pregnancy. In addition, having abnormal fallopian tubes is an important ectopic pregnancy risk factor, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
You are more likely to have abnormal fallopian tubes if you’ve had these conditions:
- A previous ectopic pregnancy
- Surgery on your fallopian tubes (such as tubal sterilization)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection of the fallopian tubes, uterus, and adjacent pelvic structures)
- Pelvic or abdominal surgery
- Sexually transmitted infections
April 12, 2018
Janet O’Dell, RN