In a healthy pregnancy, the egg is fertilized within a woman’s uterus; however, when the egg is fertilized outside the uterus (most often the fallopian tube) this is known as an ectopic pregnancy. Since an ectopic pregnancy can cause serious complications it’s important that you not only recognize the warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy but that you seek immediate medical attention. If you have concerns about the symptoms you are experiencing during the early stages of your pregnancy, always turn to your OBGYN as soon as possible.
What causes an ectopic pregnancy?
Many women who’ve experienced ectopic pregnancies never had any risk factors; however, certain factors could increase the risk for an ectopic pregnancy. These include,
- A sexually transmitted disease
- Cigarette smoking
- Past abdominal or pelvic surgeries
- Getting pregnant with an IUD in
- Past fertility treatment
- Previous ectopic pregnancies
What are the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?
Early symptoms and signs of an ectopic pregnancy are typically minor such as light abdominal pain or minimal vaginal bleeding; however, as the egg develops this can cause the fallopian tube to rupture. As blood leaks out this can result in sudden and severe abdominal and shoulder pain. Life-threatening symptoms include fainting, lightheadedness, and shock. If you are experiencing severe pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, shoulder pain, or lightheadedness it’s important that you seek immediate medical attention.
What are my treatment options?
The recommended course of action to treat an ectopic pregnancy will depend on how far along you are in the pregnancy as well as the symptoms you are experiencing. If detected early, most women receive an injectable medication that stops the cells from multiplying and dissolves the cells that are present. A blood test will then be performed to check HCG levels.
Laparoscopic surgery may be necessary to remove the ectopic pregnancy so the fallopian tube can heal. If there is extensive damage to the tube or the tube has ruptured then the tube may also need to be removed.
Light vaginal bleeding and stomach cramping are also normal parts of early pregnancy, so if you have any questions or concerns about the symptoms you are experiencing during your first trimester, your OBGYN is the ideal doctor to get answers to all of your questions and to provide you with specialized care.