Ectopic Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
The diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy is often emotionally traumatic for many women. Studies show that ectopic pregnancies account for 1-2% of all conceptions, and it occurs when an egg fertilizes outside the uterus.
In normal conception, fertilization occurs inside the fallopian tube. The process is characterized by the fusing of the egg with the sperm in the tube. The resulting embryo then travels through the fallopian tube and reaches the uterus within 3-4 days.
On the other hand, if the fallopian tube is damaged or blocked, it won’t transport the embryo to the uterus. As a result, the embryo will implant in the tube’s lining and cause ectopic pregnancy.
Because the damaged tube can’t support the growing embryo, it will rupture and cause bleeding, which results in a serious situation. Studies highlight that around 95% of ectopic pregnancies have implantation in the fallopian tube, but hey can also occur in the ovary, cervix, and abdomen.
Many women who experience ectopic pregnancies ask medical professionals to remove it from the tube and transplant it into the uterus. Unfortunately, the current medical science has no solution to such a problem. In simple words, ectopic pregnancy can’t be converted into a normal pregnancy. Read on!
Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy
A damaged fallopian tube is the most common cause of ectopic pregnancy. Studies show that over 50% of such pregnancies are due to some degree of tubal conditions. Previous pelvic infections, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, can result in fallopian tube damage.
However, tubal disease also occurs due to appendicitis, endometriosis, and previous pelvic surgery. Studies highlight that exposure to diethylstilbestrol can also lead to fallopian tube damage or tubal disease.
Most women who have undergone a tubal ligation for sterilization have a higher risk of ectopic pregnancies. Besides, a woman who conceives due to in vitro fertilization (IVF) or fertility drugs is also prone to an ectopic pregnancy.
Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy
There are many signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. Among them, the most common or early signal is delayed or abnormal bleeding. Once pregnancy is confirmed, abnormal HCG levels, pelvic pain, and irregular bleeding in the first few weeks can indicate an ectopic pregnancy.
A woman must immediately consult her doctor after suspecting that she is pregnant or has had lower abdominal pain. Experts recommend seeking advice from your doctor even if your discomfort decreases in severity.
Early detection of an ectopic pregnancy can help reduce the likelihood of complications and offer opportunities for treatments. Research shows that an ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed until 6-8 weeks of pregnancy when a woman experiences abdominal pain, internal bleeding, or irregular vaginal bleeding. Other symptoms are:
- Pain in shoulder, neck, and pelvis
- Severe pain in one side of the pelvic area
- Light vaginal spotting
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Rectal pressure
Research shows that the fetus does not survive in an ectopic pregnancy. It is because tissues outside the uterus do not receive enough blood or have structural support. When it ruptures, the woman experiences extreme pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding. It is crucial to treat the condition because it can lead to complications that are hard to treat.
Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment
Your health provider will prescribe several medications to prevent the ectopic mass from bursting. Methotrexate is a common drug prescribe for this purpose. The medication stops the rapid growth of cells in the ectopic mass.
Most often, the medication is given through an injection. You may also undergo regular blood tests to ensure the efficacy of the blood. The drug’s effectiveness is characterized by symptoms similar to a miscarriage, such as cramping and bleeding. Keep in mind that a woman who takes methotrexate won’t get pregnant for a few months.
Surgery is another treatment option for an ectopic pregnancy. Laparotomy is the surgical procedure that involves the surgeon making a small incision and insert the camera to carry out the operation. It requires the surgeon to remove the embryo and repair the damaged fallopian tube.
An ectopic pregnancy can become a life-threatening condition for a woman. It usually leads to the bursting of the fallopian tube, resulting in severe bleeding. Early diagnosis of the condition is important because untreated ectopic pregnancy can cause serious health issues.