What is Ectopic Pregnancy, its Signs & Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment?

Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that develops outside the uterus. It can occur in the fallopian tubes, cervix, ovaries or abdomen.

Ectopic pregnancy can be very harmful and life-threatening.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Signs and Symptoms

Ectopic pregnancy is usually found in the first 6-10 weeks of pregnancy.

Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose ectopic pregnancy because the signs and symptoms may be the same as those of normal pregnancy.

The most common signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are listed below:

  • Missed menstrual period;
  • Mild vaginal bleeding;
  • Severe pain in the pelvic region and/or abdomen;
  • Pain in the shoulders and/or neck, especially while lying down;
  • Pain in the lower back;
  • Low blood pressure;
  • Pain while urinating;
  • Pain after sex;
  • Dizziness;
  • Weakness;
  • Fainting.

If you have any of the following symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

Ectopic pregnancy: Diagnosis

Ectopic pregnancies can be diagnosed with the following tests:

  • CBC - Complete Blood Count;
  • Serial HCG Blood test;
  • Progesterone blood test;
  • Vaginal examination;
  • Ultrasound;
  • Laparoscopy (in emergency situations).

Ectopic pregnancy: Treatment

Actually, there are four main treatment options available for ectopic pregnancy.

  • Medication – the ectopic pregnancy is terminated by injecting the drug called methotrexate, which is given by injection. Methotrexate stops the growth of the embryo and is an alternative to surgical treatment. Unfortutately, not all ectopic pregnancies can be treated this way.
  • Laparoscopic surgery – a ‘keyhole’ surgery that removes ectopic pregnancy and damaged organs. Laparoscopy is the least invasive surgical treatment.
  • Laparotomy - a surgical incision into the abdominal cavity. Laparotomy is done in emergency situations when a patient is clinically unstable.
  • Expectant management or ‘wait and see’ - it is done when there are no symptoms at all or ectopic pregnancy is suspected.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Chances of future pregnancy

It is possible to have a successful pregnancy after an ectopic one. It mainly depends on the condition of the fallopian tubes and your fertility.

 

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