What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
Ectopic Pregnancy Stories
Normally, pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants and develops into an embryo inside the uterus. It attaches to the lining of the uterus. So what is an ectopic pregnancy then? An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg gets implanted outside the uterus, including fallopian tubes, cervix, and even within the abdomen. According to the data of the American Academy of Family Physicians, 1 out of every 50 pregnancies is ectopic.
Ectopic pregnancies that occur in the fallopian tube are also known as "tubal pregnancies." The fallopian tubes are the tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. Sometimes an egg gets stuck in them and causes danger to a woman's health if the pregnancy continues. This is because the fallopian tubes do not have enough space for a pregnancy to develop and grow. As the fetus grows, the chances of tube being injured or bursting increases.
Reasons for an Ectopic Pregnancy
Any woman of childbearing age can be at risk for an ectopic pregnancy. Sometimes, the reason for such pregnancies will never be determined. However, below are a few common causes of ectopic pregnancies.
- Ectopic pregnancy in the past: If you've had this kind of pregnancy previously, you're more likely to have another similar pregnancy.
- Pelvic inflammation: Infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause inflammation in fallopian tubes, cervix, and other nearby organs. This, in turn, may increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
- Fertility or IVF treatment: During the transfer of embryo in IVF, it may stick somewhere outside of the uterus, which results in ectopic pregnancy.
- Vaginal douching: Those who use vaginal douches (washing the vaginal cavity with soaps and cleaning solutions) have an increased risk for ectopic pregnancy.
- Smoking: smokers have an increased level of the protein in fallopian tubes. Further, this protein helps the womb to grow. But when present in the tubes, it can hinder the development of a fertilized egg.
- Increased age: The risk of ectopic pregnancy is higher in women of age above 35.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The common symptoms of uterine pregnancy and ectopic pregnancies are nausea and breast soreness. However, abdominal pain, absence of menstrual periods, and vaginal bleeding raise the concern for a diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy.
The doctor usually diagnoses it through a blood hormone test and by doing a pelvic ultrasound.
Related: Pregnancy After A Miscarriage
Treatments for an Ectopic Pregnancy
· Medication – your gynecologist can give you an injection of powerful medicine to stop the growth of pregnancy out of the uterus.
· Surgery – the doctor can perform surgery like laparoscopy under the general anesthetic to remove the fetus or fertilized egg from the fallopian tube or other location.
There is no possible prediction and prevention in this type of pregnancies, but you can reduce it's risk. Follow a healthy diet and maintain good reproductive health to lower the risks of ectopic pregnancy.
Also, try to visit your doctor for regular gynecological examinations, especially if you are trying to get pregnant.
Remember that ectopic pregnancy can happen in any woman and may pose a dangerous risk to her health. So, if you have any unusual symptoms like abdominal pain and might be pregnant, be sure to see your doctor to rule this out.