Ectopic pregnancy symptoms
There may be no symptoms of ectopic pregnancy at first, or you may have the same signs as a normal pregnancy — a missed menstrual period, nausea and breast tenderness, and a positive pregnancy test.
Vaginal bleeding accompanied by pelvic or abdominal pain is often the first warning ectopic pregnancy symptom, the American Pregnancy Association points out.
The bleeding may be light or heavy. Abdominal pain can be sudden and sharp and ache without relief — or it can come and go and occur only on one side. If blood from a ruptured fallopian tube leaks and builds up under the area between your chest and stomach (your diaphragm), you may feel shoulder pain, too. And if the fallopian tube ruptures, weakness, dizziness, and fainting can occur due to internal bleeding and blood loss, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns.
Ectopic pregnancy treatment
If you have signs of an ectopic pregnancy, whether or not you have a confirmed pregnancy, call your doctor. If you experience severe abdominal or pelvic pain accompanied by vaginal bleeding or extreme lightheadedness or fainting, don’t hesitate to seek emergency medical care.
If your doctor suspects you may have tubal pregnancy symptoms, an ultrasound exam, which uses sound waves to create an image, can check for signs of pregnancy and the location of a fetus. In addition, your doctor may perform these tests:
- A pelvic exam
- A blood pressure check (low blood pressure can be a sign of internal bleeding)
- A blood test to measure human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone produced when a woman is pregnant
If an ectopic pregnancy is caught early and the fallopian tube has not ruptured, in some cases medication can be used to stop the growth of the pregnancy so the body can absorb it — this preserves the fallopian tube.
Ectopic pregnancy surgery
In other cases, the pregnancy is removed through a very small cut, using minimally invasive laparoscopy. However, if the ectopic pregnancy is larger or if the fallopian tube has ruptured, some or all the tube may have to be removed through a larger incision.
If you experience an ectopic pregnancy, that doesn’t mean you can’t become pregnant again (although there is an increased risk for another ectopic pregnancy), especially if both your fallopian tubes have been preserved — and that’s most likely when symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are recognized early and treated promptly.
April 12, 2018
Janet O’Dell, RN