Ectopic pregnancy is when an embryo has implanted itself outside of the uterine walls. This usually occurs in a fallopian tube but it is possible to have it occur in other parts of the female reproductive system or in the abdominal cavity. Before medical advances, ectopic pregnancies proved fatal in over 50 % of cases. Thanks to developments in medical science, and education for women on how to detect and get treatment for these pregnancies, it has lowered to less than .05% ending fatally. Even with these advances, women and all future parents should be aware of the signs, symptoms, and severity of this condition since it is still the leading cause of death in the early stage of pregnancies. Here are 9 major things you must know about ectopic pregnancies.
- Ectopic pregnancies occur in about one out of every fifty pregnancies, or 2%.
- Occurs in the first few weeks of pregnancy and can usually be detected by a doctor around 8 weeks.
- 98% of ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes, also called a tubal pregnancy, but in some cases it can occur in the cervix, an ovary, or on another organ in the abdominal cavity.
- The major cause of ectopic pregnancy is a damaged fallopian tube. Other causes could include hormonal imbalances or abnormal fetal growth.
- Things that can cause a woman to have a higher risk for ectopic pregnancies are; Pelvic Inflammatory disease, STD’s such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, previous ectopic pregnancies, unsuccessful tubal ligation, smoking, age of mother, fertility treatments such as IVF, a defect in the fallopian tubes acquired during their development (such as the shape or size of the tube), a surgery that left scarring that blocks the tube, use of an IUD and becoming pregnant while having it.
- Early detection is crucial in order to prevent hemorrhaging, infertility, and even death.
- Signs of ectopic pregnancy include sharp cramps in the abdominal or pelvic areas, pain occurring on one side of the body, dizziness or feeling weak, pains in a shoulder, the neck or rectum, light bleeding, nausea and vomiting, if it goes undetected long enough a ruptured tube could cause hemorrhaging and sever pain, this can also cause fainting.
- If these symptoms are occurring you should seek immediate medical help. Doctors can detect an ectopic pregnancy by blood tests and ultrasounds.
- Treatment can be done in a few ways, depending on the stage or severity of the ectopic pregnancy. Drugs may be used if the pregnancy is very early. If it is further along the embryo may need to be removed with laparoscopic surgery and to repair the fallopian tube. If major damage has been done to the tube, however, it may need to be removed. If it has reached the stage of rupturing the tube, then an emergency surgery would need to be performed.
Prevention of certain risk factors and early detection are two key things to remember. Using protection to prevent certain STD’s that are known to increase the risk, and proper use of menstrual devices such as tampons to prevent pelvic inflammatory disease are just two ways to help reduce the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. Although it is not preventable, with the proper steps and early detection ectopic pregnancy is treatable.