Ectopic pregnancy symptoms and risk factors – what you need to know

In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. This kind of pregnancy does not deliver babies and it is impossible to put this egg back into the uterus. It is estimated that just over 2% of all pregnancies are ectopic in nature. Ectopic pregnancies are and should be medically terminated.

An early ectopic pregnancy displays symptoms that are quite similar to those of normal pregnancy. Women with ectopic pregnancy may experience the following;
• Missed periods
• Tender breasts
• Fatigue
• Nausea
• The urge to urinate more frequently

The first signs of ectopic pregnancy are –
• Vaginal bleeding
• Expectant mothers start feeling pain in the pelvic area or the abdomen 6 to 8 weeks after a missed period.
As this kind of pregnancy progresses, women may experience the following symptoms;
• Signs of shock – the patient might pass out suddenly, experience trouble in standing up or feel dizzy. A person in shock might experience increased heartbeat and a sudden increase in blood pressure. Shock is a life threatening medical condition and the patient must be taken immediately to a doctor on the appearance of these symptoms.
• Ectopic pregnancy symptoms also include belly or abdominal pain that may spread from one part of the abdomen to another. This pain is the result of movement or stretching.
• There may be heavy or severe bleeding.
• You might experience a sharp pain while having intercourse.
• If there is some internal bleeding then it may cause drowsiness, fainting or lightness.
• Often, an abdominal bleeding irritates the diaphragm which later on causes pain in the shoulder area.

Ectopic pregnancy symptoms are often very similar to those of miscarriage.

How does ectopic pregnancy occur?
After conception, the egg moves forward in one of the fallopian tubes. If the tube is damaged or blocked, the egg just stays there and does not move onward to the uterus. This results in an ectopic pregnancy.
In some cases, the egg may implant itself in an ovary, in the cervix, directly in the abdomen or even inside a c-section scar.

Risk factors of ectopic pregnancy
• Previous ectopic pregnancy – You are more likely to have another ectopic pregnancy if you have had an earlier one.
• Inflammation or infection of the fallopian tubes is an important risk factor for ectopic pregnancy. The root cause of these infections is gonorrhoea or chlamydia.
• Use of fertility drugs may also lead to ectopic pregnancy.
• Structural issues – Quite often, the fallopian tubes may be damaged during surgery. In most cases, this medical condition may also be triggered by badly made tubes.
• Choice of contraceptives – Many studies have suggested that ectopic pregnancy occurs if you use an intra-uterine device for contraception. Tying together of the tubes may also cause ectopic pregnancy.

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