Ectopic Pregnancy

Most people are familiar with the normal biology of pregnancy: A fertilized egg gets implanted into the uterus, where it develops into a baby. Sometimes though, due to unknown causes, the fertilized egg may get implanted somewhere other than the uterus and start to develop. When this happens, it is termed an ectopic pregnancy.

In most cases of ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg gets implanted into one of the fallopian tubes.

How do I know if I’m having an ectopic pregnancy?

You may remain asymptomatic initially. Symptoms appear as the pregnancy progresses and starts to grow.

Some symptoms include:

  1. Being overdue or missing your period
  2. Pain in your lower abdomen
  3. Bleeding vaginally
  4. Severe pain on either side of your waist

As the size of the egg grows, it is unable to sustain itself within the tube since there is no space. It causes pain and eventually, it ruptures, causing bleeding.

What is the leading cause?

In most cases, the cause of this remains unknown.

However, some factors may put you at risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.

These include:

  • Having a previous history of ectopic pregnancy 
  • History of receiving fertility treatment or any medication that stimulates ovulation
  • Getting pregnant while having an IUD
  • Having a pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Smoking before getting pregnant 
  • Age being 35 or above
  • History of prior surgery to the fallopian tubes

Sometimes, people may have an ectopic pregnancy even in the absence of the above factors.

Is this considered a miscarriage?

Since the site of implantation other than the womb is usually insufficient to sustain the size of the growing egg, it is impossible to maintain the pregnancy.

Thus, unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy always results in a miscarriage.

How long are you pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy initially remains asymptomatic as the size of the fertilized egg is small. As it grows in size and starts to stretch the walls of your fallopian tube, it starts causing symptoms of discomfort, or in extreme cases, it may rupture.

The usual duration of an ectopic pregnancy lasts anywhere between 6-16 weeks and rarely grows beyond that.


How is it treated?

The treatment of an ectopic pregnancy usually depends on the extent of the symptoms. It is usually treated in three ways:

  • Expectant management: this is usually resorted to when the ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed on ultrasound and does not cause any symptoms. For this, you wait and watch for any complications and let the ectopic dissolve on its own.
  • Medical treatment: you may be prescribed a drug known as methotrexate, this prevents the growth of fertilized egg and eventually causes it to dissolve. It prevents damage to the fallopian tubes and decreases the chances of surgical intervention.
  • Surgery: if an ectopic pregnancy is causing severe symptoms or is diagnosed to be ruptured on an ultrasound scan, it needs to be surgically removed to prevent the patient from going into shock. A surgeon performs a laparotomy to remove the ectopic pregnancy or in some cases, the tube if it’s beyond repair.


Coping with an ectopic pregnancy?

Recovering from this is not easy. The patient is not only recovering from the physical trauma of it all, but also the emotional distress of having a miscarriage. It is essential to take the time to recover physically and prioritize your health.

Speak to your healthcare provider regarding any concerns that you might have. It helps to know that you can still have a healthy pregnancy if either of your tubes is normal. However, if you were treated with methotrexate it is recommended that you wait for three months before planning a baby again to prevent any drug side effects in the baby.

Most moms can have a healthy baby even after an ectopic pregnancy. Seek help from your friends and family, and know it’s okay to mourn. If you ever have any questions, you can always give us a call.