Inevitable a fat it is, that pregnancy is one of the happiest moment in a woman’s life. However, sometimes due to various medical conditions pregnancy can happen unusually, outside of the woman’s uterus. This condition is called Ectopic Pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy needs immediate medical attention to avoid unwanted complications to the woman’s reproductive system. This type of pregnancy cannot survive and if not treated can be harmful to the body of the pregnant woman.
Ectopic Pregnancy – What it is and how does it occur?
A healthy pregnancy occurs in the uterus(womb) of a woman. However, an ectopic pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus, mostly in the fallopian tubes. The ovary and the two fallopian tubes connecting on either side of the ovary and uterus form the primary organs of the female reproductive system. Vagina and cervix constitute the external parts of the female reproductive system. The sperm travels its way up from the exterior vagina to the cervix leading into the fallopian tubes, where the egg( released by the ovaries) is fertilized and moved all the way up into the uterus for implantation.
The fallopian tubes act as a tunnel for transporting the “egg” into the uterus. However, quite rarely, the “egg” gets attached to the fallopian tube and is not transported all the way to the uterus. The fertilized egg then begins to grow. However, the fallopian tube is not an organ that supports the pregnancy. Hence there is a need for medical intervention by a doctor to safeguard the health of the mother.
Where does ectopic pregnancy occur?
- Ectopic Pregnancy can occur in :
- Fallopian tubes
If the ectopic pregnancy occurs in the cervix, it is referred to as Cervical pregnancy. If it occurs in the abdomen its called abdominal pregnancy. If the ectopic pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tubes, it’s referred to as tubular pregnancies.
What are the causes of ectopic pregnancy?
The possible causes are:
- A blockage in the fallopian tube which does not let the egg to travel to its desired position in the uterus. The obstruction can occur as a result of an infection or an inflammation( ) in the fallopian tube.
- The movement of the egg is slowed down in the fallopian tube because of the resulting scar tissue from a previous surgery on the tubes or a previous infection.
- A history of surgery in the pelvic region or the fallopian tubes can lead to the egg attaching itself to the area.
- An abnormal shape of the fallopian tube in the mother, due to congenital disabilities or genetic abnormality can cause an ectopic pregnancy.
Who is at risk of developing ectopic pregnancy?
The following patients have a high risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy:
- Women between the age of 35 to 44 years
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease(PID)
- A history of previous ectopic pregnancies
- Previous surgeries in the abdomen or the pelvic area
- A history of induced abortions
- Someone who is going through fertility treatment or are using fertility medicines
- While using an Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUD), used for birth control.
- Endometriosis (when the inner lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus on organs such as fallopian tubes, ovary, etc)
However, these risks can be minimized by taking some simple precautions which include:
- By avoiding infections by using a condom during intercourse
- By avoiding any activity that carries a risk of sexually transmitted diseases by limiting the number of partners
- Get a quick treatment for vaginal, uterine or other infections of the reproductive system.
- Quit smoking.
What are the symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy can be self-diagnosed by the following symptoms:
- A person may feel the pain of a very sharp intensity in the abdominal or pelvic region due to rupture of the area of the ectopic pregnancy( the growing egg in the fallopian tube can cause the tissues to stretch and burst causing bleeding)
- Sharp pain in the neck and shoulders due to internal bleeding from the ectopic pregnancy
- Feeling dizzy and weak
- Indigestion or tummy trouble( gastrointestinal symptoms)
- Bleeding from the vagina, heavier than your normal period
- However, an immediate or early sign of an ectopic pregnancy can be:
- A missed period
- Pain in the pelvis or abdomen
If you notice the symptoms mentioned in this article, don’t wait. Get an appointment scheduled and find out what’s causing you the discomfort. Prevention is, after all, a better option.
Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy.
Your doctor can diagnose an ectopic pregnancy by the following methods:
- Pelvic exam: Doctor will perform a pelvic exam to rule out any tenderness or muscle mass in the abdomen
- Ultrasound: Your doctor might do an ultrasound to check if a fetus is growing in the uterus or outside the uterus.
- Measuring your hCG levels: By measuring your hCG levels, it’s possible to determine if your pregnancy is an ectopic one since low hCG level indicates a possible ectopic pregnancy.
- Measuring your progesterone levels: low progesterone( a hormone secreted during pregnancy) levels may indicate an ectopic pregnancy.
- Perform Culdocentesis: Culdocentesis is a procedure to check for internal bleeding from the fallopian tubes. It is performed by inserting a needle at the top of the vagina behind the uterus to check for blood due to a ruptured fallopian tube.
Treatment and care for an Ectopic Pregnancy
There are different treatments available for treating an ectopic pregnancy. A treatment involving the breaking down of the pregnancy tissue is done by administering a drug called Methotrexate. This option is usually available during the initial stages of the pregnancy, where the fallopian tube is intact and can be saved from bursting by dissolving the pregnancy tissue.
In case of a ruptured fallopian tube, a surgery needs to be done to stop the bleeding as soon as possible and remove the dead tissue or the part of the fallopian tube has to be removed depending on the degree of rupture.
What is the possibility of a healthy pregnancy after an ectopic pregnancy?
There is a 60% chance of a healthy pregnancy after an ectopic pregnancy. However, it depends to an extent on the treatment performed for the ectopic pregnancy. If your fallopian tubes are left intact, and in good shape, you will have higher chances of a healthy pregnancy in the future. Your fallopian tubes can be left untouched in the following conditions:
- Early identification and diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy by a medical professional.
- Early treatment of the ectopic pregnancy, either by Methotrexate treatment or laparoscopy.
Having an ectopic pregnancy can be difficult both physically and emotionally. We at Neelima multi-specialty hospital, have very qualified surgeons and gynaecologists who will do everything to save your tubes so that you have a high chance of healthy pregnancy in the future. So if you or your someone you know is diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, call us right now. The early an ectopic pregnancy is detected, the better the chances of a healthy pregnancy in the future. Don’t wait to call us; we believe every woman deserves a healthy pregnancy.
About The Hospital:
Neelima Hospitals is an aspiring ’go-to’ multi-specialty medical centre for communities, that look for affordable and effective Healthcare facilities. Dr P Neelima & Dr P Srinivasulu, the founding members of Neelima Hospitals aspire to ‘serve middle-class people, who need efficient & effective medical treatment, at affordable prices’. Their strong conviction and guiding philosophy motivated them to establish Neelima Hospital in the year 2008.