An ectopic pregnancy—which can also be referred to as a tubal pregnancy—occurs when the embryo doesn’t implant itself in the uterus, but rather in one of the fallopian tubes. In rare cases, the embryo has been attached to an ovary or another abdominal organ, as well. Ectopic pregnancy is an extremely critical disorder and can be potentially life-threatening. Once diagnosed, ectopic pregnancies require immediate treatment to alleviate a more serious situation.
Ectopic pregnancies are generally discovered by the eighth week of pregnancy. They are caused by conditions that slow down or block the movement of the egg down the fallopian tube and into the uterus. There are certain risk factors that increase a woman’s chances for having an ectopic pregnancy.
These risk factors include:
• Use of an intrauterine device (IUD) at the time of conception
• History of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
• Sexually-transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
• Inherited irregularity of the fallopian tube
• History of ectopic pregnancy
• Tubal ligation, unsuccessful tubal ligation, or reversal of tubal ligation
• Use of fertility drugs
• Infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF)
Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are fairly common and generally include:
• Vaginal bleeding
• Signs of early pregnancy
• Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
• Dizziness or weakness
The reason ectopic pregnancies need to be treated immediately is it runs the risk of the fallopian tube rupturing. This can require serious procedures to stop the internal bleeding along with other life-altering complication.
There is no way to avoid an ectopic pregnancy other than to avoid any potential risk factors, if possible.