Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which the foetus develops outside the womb, typically in the fallopian tube, but in rare cases, the pregnancy could attach to the ovary, the abdominal wall or other abdominal organs. This happens in around 1:80
pregnancies, 12,000 a year.
This is a life threatening emergency and requires urgent treatment. It is not possible to save this type of pregnancy.
- Doesn’t always present with symptoms, up to 10% may not have any symptoms of the ectopic at all, although they will have a missed period and symptoms of pregnancy. It can be picked up on a routine scan before you even feel anything.
- Symptoms can develop anytime between 4th week and 12th week.
- Abdominal pain, low down on one side.
- Vaginal bleeding/watery brown discharge
- shoulder tip pain
- discomfort in passing urine/ opening your bowels
Emergency Help is Required If :
- Sharp and sudden intense abdominal pain
- Feeling dizzy or fainting
- Feeling sick
- Looking very pale
These are symptoms of a potentially ruptured tubal pregnancy and this needs emergency surgery. This can be life threatening but thankfully this is rare.
Treatment for Ectopic Pregnancy
- Medication – Sometimes if there are no symptoms, it is possible to use medication such as Methotrexate, to stop the growth of the pregnancy. The patient is then monitored carefully to ensure that the treatment is successful.
- Surgery – Keyhole surgery ( laparoscopy) under a general anaesthetic can be used to remove the fertilised egg and the damaged fallopian tube.
Trying For Another Baby
– Loss of a pregnancy through an ectopic can be devastating and many women feel the sense of grief as if they have lost a family member. These feeling can last for several months.
– When physically and emotionally ready, wait for at least 2 periods, before trying again, 3 if methotrexate was used.
– Most women will get pregnant again after an ectopic, even if they’ve had a tube removed. 65% manage to achieve a pregnancy within 18 months but occasionally IVF may be necessary.
-When you get pregnant again, it is likely that your doctors will advise an early scan to ensure that your developing pregnancy is in the right place.
Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – a pelvic infection that has passed through the vagina and into the pelvic organs.
- Previous ectopic pregnancy – there is a risk of around 10% of having another ectopic pregnancy.
- Previous tubal surgery – unsuccessful female sterilisation or other tubal surgery can cause a partial blockage,
- Fertility treatment
- Increased age