Ectopic pregnancy is the condition where the fertilized egg settles down and starts growing in a location different than the uterus wall lining inside the woman’s body. Most of the ectopic pregnancies occur in Fallopian tube and are also known as tubal pregnancies.
However, in some rare cases, they may even occur in different locations such as cervix, ovary, or the abdominal cavity. Ectopic pregnancy can be seen in one out of every 50 pregnancies.
The biggest health risk associated with ectopic pregnancy is the rupture that may lead to internal bleeding. It is a life-threatening condition in which the fertilized egg gets transplanted outside the womb cavity, usually inside fallopian tube.
With the growth of the pregnancy, the fallopian tube starts stretching, leading to excessive pain. If the condition is not treated in time, the fallopian tube can burst up, leading to internal bleeding, collapse, and even death.
What Causes Ectopic Pregnancy?
In the normal functioning of the reproductive system, the fertilized egg moves down from the ovary to the fallopian tube and further to the uterus and implants itself in the womb wall 6-7 days after fertilization. However, in case of ectopic pregnancy, the egg fails to travel down to the uterus.
Instead, it gets implanted at a place outside the uterus, usually inside the fallopian tube where it is not able to develop properly. Most of the time, the cause behind this occurrence is some kind of damage in the fallopian tube. Many times, the tube gets narrowed or blocked due to infection such as Chlamydia or pelvic sepsis, or previous surgery.
Symptoms Of Ectopic Pregnancy
Though it is not easy to diagnose, but here are the most common signs and symptoms that can help to recognize the existence of ectopic pregnancy.
• Late or missed period
• Positive pregnancy test
• Severe and persistent Abdominal pain, usually only on one side.
• Pain at the shoulder tip
• Abnormal bleeding: there may be heavier or lighter bleeding than the normal period and usually prolonged. Most of the time, this bleeding is watery and dark in color.
• Pain while opening and bowels and diarrhea.
• Lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting.
Who Are At Risk Of Ectopic Pregnancy?
Broadly, all sexually active women of child-bearing age are at risk of developing ectopic pregnancy, but presence of certain factors can boost its possibility. These include women between 24 and 35 years of age, having history of any pelvic disease like Chlamydia, history of previous abdominal surgery like appendix removal, taking progesterone only pills (mini pills), previous ectopic pregnancy, IVF treatment, and smoking.
Diagnosis Of Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy can be diagnoses with a transvaginal or internal ultrasound scan that provides proper view of the ovaries, womb, and fallopian tubes. Two blood tests called serial ?hCG can also help in diagnosis the same.
Treatment Of Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy is usually treated using one of the three ways. Firstly, an operation can be performed, usually through keyhole surgery, known as laparoscopy, for removal of damaged fallopian tube as well as the ectopic pregnancy.
Secondly, a treatment using the Methotrexate injection can be carried out in which a drug is injected for restricting the growth of ectopic pregnancy. However, the patient needs to be monitored carefully by the hospital if this method is adopted. In some cases, the ectopic is so small that it can be treated without any surgery or drugs. The woman needs to undergo several ultrasound scans to watch carefully as the pregnancy ends by itself.
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