Every woman’s pregnancy is different. While most pregnancies go by smoothly, some women face several complications during pregnancy. One such rare complication is the ’Ectopic Pregnancy’.
If your doctor has informed you that you have an ectopic pregnancy, you might have many questions in your mind. This condition is very rare, so most people may not know about it. So if you have an ectopic pregnancy, read this blog to understand this complication.
This blog will help you understand the causes, symptoms, risks and medical treatment of an ectopic pregnancy.
What is Ectopic Pregnancy?
In a normal pregnancy, the fertilized egg, or the embryo, attaches to the wall of the uterus. The uterus can expand to hold the growing baby.
Ectopic pregnancy is a rare condition in which the fertilized egg attaches outside the uterus. In this case, the egg might implant in the fallopian tube or cervix. In such cases, internal bleeding may occur as your cervix or fallopian tube cannot expand to make space for your baby. With early and proper treatment, it is possible to avoid these complications and have a healthy baby.
What causes an ectopic pregnancy?
After fertilization, the egg takes 4-5 days to travel through the fallopian tube before attaching itself to the wall of the uterus. If there is a damage in your fallopian tube, which might make it too narrow, it can cause the egg to attach in the tube. It can also be caused by other reasons like:
- A previous ectopic pregnancy
- Egg gets implanted in previous C-section scars
- Swelling or inflammation in the reproductive organs
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- In-vitro fertilization
- Use of contraception devices like intrauterine device (IUD)
- Cigarette smoking before or during pregnancy
What are the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy?
If detected early, ectopic pregnancy can be treated. Signs can be noticed usually 6-8 weeks after your last menstrual period (LMP).
Most of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are very similar to pregnancy symptoms. So you might experience vomiting, breast soreness, vaginal bleeding, fainting/dizziness, severe pain in the lower stomach, neck or shoulders.
How to detect ectopic pregnancy?
Ectopic pregnancy can only be detected by medical tests. So visit your doctor as soon as you see any signs mentioned above.
As the symptoms are similar to pregnancy symptoms, your doctor will first do the necessary blood test to confirm pregnancy. After this, an ultrasound scan will be done to know where the egg has attached. It is possible that the egg’s location is not detected in the early days of your pregnancy. So your ectopic pregnancy might get detected only after multiple ultrasounds. Generally, ectopic pregnancy can be detected in the first trimester itself.
On detecting an ectopic pregnancy, your doctor will advise you on the next steps for your recovery.
Treatment for ectopic pregnancy
Consult your doctor as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. It can be treated only if it is detected early. Based on the location and size of the egg, your doctor may suggest any of the treatments mentioned below:
Medicines for treating ectopic pregnancy: If detected very early, the doctor might prescribe methotrexate injections for your treatment. Methotrexate damages the tissues in your fallopian tube, which might lead to the loss of the baby. You can expect a lot of vaginal bleeding for a few weeks. Consult your doctor regularly during this time. If the hCG hormone is detected in your blood test, you might get the methotrexate injection again. After 3-4 months, consult your doctor if you want to plan for a baby again.
Surgery for treating ectopic pregnancy: In complicated cases like too much bleeding or if the ectopic pregnancy is detected too late, the doctor might ask you to have a surgery called laparoscopy.
In laparoscopic surgery, a small cut is made in your stomach, near your bellybutton. The doctor will push a thin tube inside this cut. The tube is fitted with a camera and a light to see the condition of your fallopian tubes. Then the embryo is removed from the tube. Based on the condition of the fallopian tube tissues, your fallopian tube may either be repaired or removed.
You will not feel any pain as you will receive anaesthesia to numb your stomach before the surgery. After 2 months, consult your doctor if you want to plan for a baby again.
What are the risks of ectopic pregnancy?
- If your egg has implanted in the fallopian tube, your fallopian tube might burst as it cannot expand to hold your growing baby. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to the death of the mother.
- In some cases, you might have an ectopic pregnancy in your next pregnancy as well. So keep a gap of at least 3-4 months after your treatment of ectopic pregnancy before you try to conceive. Talk to your doctor to prepare yourself and prevent the risk of another ectopic pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you might have some new or unusual experiences, like bleeding or pain. It is important to keep track of all these experiences and consult your doctor regularly. Regular checkups with your doctor will help in detecting many complications. If you know any women who have gone through an ectopic pregnancy, it will be helpful to talk to them. Learning about their experience can help you prepare yourself mentally.
After reading this blog, we hope you have a better understanding of ectopic pregnancy. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, we wish you the best and hope that you recover as soon as possible. Take care. Stay healthy and happy. Share your feelings with your husband. Within a few months, you and your husband try for pregnancy again.