What is an ectopic pregnancy? An ectopic pregnancy is a condition in which the fertilized egg settles in any other location aside from the uterus. In most women, the fertilized egg becomes lodged in the fallopian tubes, which is why an ectopic pregnancy is also called a tubal pregnancy. In other cases, the fertilized egg may be implanted in the cervix (cervical pregnancy) or the abdomen (abdominal pregnancy). An ectopic pregnancy poses a great risk for the mother because when the fertilized egg implants itself anywhere else but the uterus, any of these places are not conducive to nurturing the egg. When the egg grows, it may rupture and burst from the organ that contains it, leading to internal bleeding and worse, death.
Causes of ectopic pregnancy An ectopic pregnancy is often caused by a blockage that slows the journey of the egg from the fallopian tubes into the uterus. Thus, if there are any changes in the fallopian tubes that render them "abnormal" for safety passage, then your risk for an ectopic pregnancy is high. One of the most common reasons that disrupts the normal architecture of the fallopian tubes is when you have had previous surgery on your fallopian tubes, like tubal sterilization. Tumors in the fallopian tubes can also change the structure of the fallopian tubes.
Pelvic inflammatory disease, which is usually caused by an infection in the pelvis, can lead to an obstruction in the fallopian tubes. Infections are commonly caused by bacteria from Chlamydia or gonorrhea (both sexually transmitted diseases) that in turn can damage the cilia (small, hair-like structures) in the fallopian tubes that transport the egg within them.
Though these are the common causes of ectopic pregnancy, there are times when the cause of the ectopic pregnancy is unknown. Women who are more at risk need to look after themselves especially those who have had previous ectopic pregnancies, who are over the age of 35, have had many sexual partners and have had in vitro fertilization.
Signs and Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy An ectopic pregnancy has the same symptoms as a normal pregnancy except that you will probably experience short, stabbing pain in your lower abdomen and pelvic area and some mild cramping on one side of the pelvis, depending on where the fertilized egg implanted. There will also be some mild vaginal bleeding which can be mistaken for a miscarriage as they also have similar symptoms.
Whatís more dangerous is that when the organ on which the fertilized egg is implanted begins to rupture. This can cause severe internal bleeding and low blood pressure and may pose a serious threat to the woman especially if she doesnít even know that she has an ectopic pregnancy. If you feel faint or have actually fainted and experience the abovementioned symptoms, get yourself to a doctor immediately.
Treatment for an ectopic pregnancy All ectopic pregnancies must be terminated because they pose a danger and a threat to the motherís life. They cannot continue to term because they are not in the right place to develop and grow. Surgical treatments are often the most common solution for an ectopic pregnancy that hasnít ruptured yet. Some medication may also be possible for those that arenít at any risk for rupturing. Once rupture occurs, immediate medical attention is necessary like blood transfusion (when thereís too much blood loss), oxygen and fluids. Surgery will then be necessary to remove the abnormal pregnancy.