Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy, also known as a tubal pregnancy, occurs when the fertilized egg implants in a site other than the uterus. More commonly, the fetus grows inside the fallopian tube; however, ectopic pregnancies can also occur in the ovary, the abdomen or in the cervix.

Fertility Treatments And Ectopic Pregnancy

For many women the cause of their ectopic pregnancy is related to tubal disease and/or obstruction. In addition, fertility treatments that stimulate ovulation and any surgery that results in damage to the fallopian tubes may increase the chances of an ectopic pregnancy.

Symptoms Of Ectopic Pregnancy
  • Lower abdominal cramps or pains on one side of the pelvis
  • Light vaginal bleeding

Normally, the pregnancy hormone (beta hCG) doubles approximately every 48 hours. hCG levels that do not rise appropriately or rise too slowly may suggest an ectopic pregnancy.

An ultrasound can help document the location of the ectopic pregnancy when symptoms occur.

If rupture and hemorrhaging occurs before successfully treating the pregnancy, symptoms may worsen and include:

  • Severe, sharp and sudden pain in the lower abdominal area
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Pain in the shoulder or neck area

Women should be aware that smoking increases the chance of ectopic pregnancy.

Conceiving After Ectopic Pregnancy

Further pregnancies are possible provided that there is either one healthy fallopian tube, the tube in which the ectopic was treated remains open, and/or IVF is used to completely bypass the tubes. About 50% of the women who have experienced an ectopic pregnancy are later able to achieve a normal pregnancy. A subsequent ectopic pregnancy may occur in 10 to 20% of cases.


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