Ectopic pregnancy is a serious condition that can be life-threatening. It occurs when a fertilised egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. This can cause the egg to rupture the fallopian tube, which can lead to bleeding and other complications.
Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy may include:
- abdominal pain
- spotting or light bleeding from the vagina
- shoulder pain (due to blood from a ruptured fallopian tube irritating the diaphragm)
How is Ectopic Pregnancy diagnosed?
Ectopic pregnancy is often diagnosed with a combination of a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and blood tests. The pelvic exam can help your doctor to rule out other causes of your symptoms, such as a urinary tract infection or appendicitis. The ultrasound will help to confirm the location of the embryo and whether or not the fallopian tube has ruptured. Blood tests can help to check for levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG, which can be elevated in an ectopic pregnancy.
What are the Treatment options for Ectopic Pregnancy?
If the ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed early, before the fallopian tube has ruptured, you may be treated with medication (methotrexate) that will stop the growth of the embryo and allow your body to absorb it. This treatment is usually only an option if you have a small amount of HCG in your blood, there is no evidence of a rupture, and you do not have any symptoms.
If the ectopic pregnancy has ruptured, or if you are experiencing severe symptoms, surgery will be necessary to remove the embryo and damaged fallopian tube. This can be done through a small incision in your abdomen (laparoscopic surgery) or a larger incision (laparotomy). You may also need to have blood transfusions if you have lost a lot of blood.
After treatment for ectopic pregnancy, it is important to wait at least 3-6 months before trying to become pregnant again. This is to allow your body to recover and to reduce the risk of another ectopic pregnancy. Your doctor may also recommend that you take a pregnancy prevention pill for a few months after treatment.
Disadvantages Ectopic Pregnancy:
There are a few disadvantages to this type of pregnancy.
1. You are at a higher risk for miscarrying the pregnancy.
2. You may have to take fertility drugs to get pregnant again.
3. You may never be able to carry a pregnancy to term.
4. You have a higher chance of having an ectopic pregnancy in the future.
How to control ectopic pregnancy:
If you have risk factors for ectopic pregnancy, your doctor may recommend that you take steps to reduce your risk. These steps may include:
1. Taking a daily low-dose aspirin (81 mg) starting one month before you attempt to become pregnant.
2. Taking a blood thinner called heparin during pregnancy.
3. Having your Fallopian tubes removed after an ectopic pregnancy.
4. Taking the fertility drug clomiphene for three to six months before you attempt to become pregnant. This will help promote ovulation and increase the chances that the egg will be fertilised in the uterus rather than in the fallopian tube.
5. Undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to bypass the fallopian tubes altogether.
Ectopic pregnancy is a serious condition that can be life-threatening. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. With early diagnosis and treatment, most women make a full recovery and can have a healthy pregnancy in the future.