What is an ectopic pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy where the fetus is growing outside the uterus. In a normal pregnancy, the fertilized egg (that came from the ovary through the fallopian tubes) comes into the uterus and connects itself to the uterine wall where it will have all the room it needs to grow. One percent of all pregnancies are an ectopic pregnancy where the egg connects to a place, not in the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy usually happens in the fallopian tube, but has rarely been seen in the cervix, ovaries, and abdomen. Except for very rare cases, the fetus will not survive an ectopic pregnancy. Also, if the embryo isn’t found and removed from the mother, it can kill her. So how does a woman know if her she is having an ectopic pregnancy?
Here are some of the signs and symptoms an ectopic pregnancy
It takes around five to eight weeks after the last menstrual period of a woman to start having signs of an ectopic pregnancy. There are signs after the initial waiting period to reveal that an ectopic pregnancy is happening. Pain in the lower abdomen is one sign that is usually confused with just strong stomach pain. In the first trimester of pregnancy, most women vomit a lot and think that this pain is from that. Pain while urinating is another sign that most women think is caused for another reason like a urinary tract infection (UTI). Mild pain and discomfort that is similar how a woman would feel in a regular pregnancy, is another tricky symptom. The last and sometimes the most telling sign of an ectopic pregnancy is vaginal bleeding. It is usually mild and is confused with an early miscarriage or the bleeding that occurs when the egg is connecting to the uterus. The only reason that this is the most telling is that a woman will tell her doctor. The doctor will then order a test to see what is going on, and one of the first things doctors try to rule out is an ectopic pregnancy.
Women who are suffering from a late ectopic pregnancy will experience more severe bleeding and pain. The bleeding will be internal from where the fallopian tube that is affected by the ectopic pregnancy has hemorrhaged or burst. There will also be bleeding from the vagina due to falling progesterone levels that would continue to go up in a normal pregnancy and only go down in an ectopic pregnancy. The internal bleeding will cause symptoms of its own. These are lower back, stomach, and pelvic pain. There will be shoulder pain due to the free blood tracking up the abdominal cavity and irritating the diaphragm. There may also be cramping and tenderness to one side of the pelvis. If the internal bleeding goes untreated, the woman could go into hypovolemic shock and consequently death.
The problem with the signs of ectopic pregnancy is that the symptoms are the same of many other medical problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease, appendicitis, urinary tract infection, and many others. The only way to find out quickly if you have an ectopic pregnancy, which is imperative, is to follow the rule of thumb if you are pregnant. Any abdominal pain or bleeding while pregnant is a reason to see a doctor. As stated before, the doctor will order tests because these signs make ectopic pregnancy a consideration when looking for what is wrong. The doctor will do ultrasounds, blood tests, and possibly a laparoscopy to find the problem. All of these tests will be able to show an ectopic pregnancy is present. When it is found that a woman does, in fact, have an ectopic pregnancy, then they have a drug to terminate the growing embryo. If a hemorrhage has occurred the only way to take care of this is surgery to fix the fallopian tube and remove the fetus.
Ectopic pregnancy is a serious complication of a pregnancy. It is fatal to the fetus and can be fatal to the mother if an ectopic pregnancy is not found right away. The best way to make sure that you do not have an ectopic pregnancy is to look for these signs and see a doctor right away if you ever feel that you exhibit them. There is no way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy. An Ectopic pregnancy could happen to anyone and it could kill you if you do not take care of it quickly. However, it is possible to get pregnant after an ectopic pregnancy as long as there are no fertility issues arising from the treatment of the ectopic pregnancy.