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What is Ectopic Pregnancy: Is it Harmful?

by | Pregnancy

Birth defects are a common issue, but have you heard about the severity of pregnancy complications? Yes, pregnancy complications not only pose a threat to the fetus ‘ life, but if they get severe, they can threaten the mother’s life as well.

Ectopic pregnancy is a type of pregnancy complication that happens in case the fertilized egg settles outside the uterus. Generally, it rests in a fallopian tube. This is part of the female reproductive system, which is not made to hold a developing embryo. It lacks elasticity which can result in heavy bleeding in the mother.

Ectopic

It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate professional assistance. If you want to search for everything about ectopic pregnancy, you are at the right place. This guide aims to provide facts and treatment for ectopic pregnancy. So let’s dive into it without further delay.

What is Ectopic Pregnancy?

It is a pregnancy condition in which fertilization begins outside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy occurs in case the fertilized egg settles outside the uterus, usually in a structure that is not designed to perform this process.

This type of pregnancy begins in the fallopian tube. It can fall in the ovaries or the abdominal cavity in rare conditions.

Some people ignore it, considering it a natural process. But remember that it is a natural error. This is a life-threatening condition. It cannot be carried till birth time. If left untreated, it can affect the mother’s life right away.

Where does Ectopic Pregnancy happen?

The condition where the fertilized egg implants outside the expected place are considered ectopic pregnancy. The fertilized egg is expected to pass through fallopian tubes, connect to the uterus’s walls, and start developing.

In case of this pregnancy complication, the get eggs settle on the wrong place along the structure and start growing. Most commonly, it happens in the fallopian tube, and it is known as ectopic tubal pregnancy. Apart from the fallopian tube, an egg can also be embedded in other parts, such as the ovaries and abdominal cavities. However, these are even rare conditions than the fallopian tube.

How Serious is Ectopic Pregnancy?

You cannot ignore ectopic pregnancy because it is considered a medical emergency. The uterus is the only part of a female’s body suited to hold a growing and developing embryo. This organ has the ability to stretch and expand as the fetus grows.

tubal pregnancy

On the other hand, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and abdominal cavities are not flexible. They can burst with the growth of the fetus. If it happens, you will experience a large amount of internal bleeding, which gradually but eventually leads to the death of the mother.

The ectopic pregnancy requires treatment right after diagnosis to prevent damage to ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other body parts involved in the fertilization process. Discarding such pregnancy is the only way to prevent internal bleeding and the mother’s death.

Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

Initially, you may not feel any symptoms, but some women with ectopic pregnancy experience excessive nausea, breast tenderness, and missed periods. If you take a pregnancy test and it gives the sign of normality, you still cannot continue the pregnancy.

With the passage of time and the growth of the egg, the signs, symptoms, pain, and bleeding gets intense and more noticeable.

Early Warning Signs

Usually, the initial signs of ectopic pregnancy are minor vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain. In case the blood is coming due to a rupture of the fallopian tube, you can experience pain in the shoulders and the need to have a bowel movement. Anyhow, there are no fixed signs because symptoms of ectopic pregnancy depends on the hurt area.

Emergency Symptoms

In case the ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed, and fertilized egg keeps growing in the fallopian tube and other organs, it leads to tube rupture. You can expect unusually high bleeding inside the abdomen. The symptoms of these life-threatening events include fainting, shock, and extreme lightheadedness.

When to See a Doctor

If you see any of these symptoms, you must immediately seek a doctor. The minor symptoms include

    • Shoulder pain.

    • Occasional fainting.

    • Severe vaginal and abdominal bleeding.

Other Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy

The other common symptoms that most expecting mothers have experience with ectopic pregnancy include:

    • Severe abdominal cramps

    • Stomach problems and nausea

    • Pain in the body (on one side)

The ectopic pregnancy can cause the fallopian tube or the organ holding the fertilized egg to rupture and burst. If you see severe bleeding and pain, go to the hospital immediately. If you diagnose it early, get it discarded as soon as possible.

What Causes Ectopic Pregnancy?

There are different causes that prevent fertilized eggs from reaching the uterus and attachment to the fallopian tube. The infection and inflammation in the tube can completely or partially block the passage of the moving egg. It commonly happens due to pelvic inflammatory disease.

causes of ectopic pregnancy

The other reason the tube can get blocked is endometriosis. It happens when the cells in the lining of the uterus grow outside the uterus. The cells start to grow inside the tube and block the passage. Moreover, the scar tissues from the former surgery of the abdominal cavity can also lead to blockage.

The other causes of ectopic pregnancy can include:

    • The woman is older than 35 years.

    • You have endometriosis.

    • You had an infection or operation in the pelvic area.

    • Hormonal imbalance.

    • Abnormal or unusual development of the fertilized egg.

Risk Factors of Ectopic Pregnancy

In some cases, there are higher chances of ectopic pregnancy. Sometimes conditions and sometimes unhealthy habits trigger ectopic pregnancy. The common risk factors include:

Previous History

If the woman previously experienced an ectopic pregnancy, she is likely to develop it again. It can happen due to a similar reason which stops the egg previously smoothly traveling through the tube and reaching the uterus.

Inflammation or Infection

ectopic pregnancy can also be the result of a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. It can lead to inflammation in the fallopian tube and the other nearby organs, which manifolds the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Tubal Surgery

causes of ectopic pregnancy

the tubal ectopic pregnancy surgery involves the fallopian tube which aims to correct the closes of the damaged fallopian tube. This surgery can also lead to significant and affecting blockage. This surgery poses a high risk of developing ectopic pregnancy.

Fertility Treatment

Many women undergo fertility treatment, such as in vitro fertilization. Moreover, similar treatment in vitro fertilization increases the chances of ectopic pregnancy. Infertility itself is the lead risk factor of ectopic pregnancy.

Choice of Birth Control

The possibility of getting pregnant with the help of an intrauterine device is rare. Anyhow, if you start conceiving utilizing this device, you are more likely to develop ectopic pregnancy. Tubal ligation, an everlasting method of birth control which is usually known as having your tubes tied, is likely to increase the risk in case you get pregnant after the procedure.

Smoking

If you usually smoke, you should be ready to expect ectopic pregnancy. Cigarette smoke before pregnancy increases the chance of ectopic pregnancy. The more you smoke, the more you become vulnerable to ectopic pregnancy and carry great risks.

How Ectopic Pregnancy is Diagnosed?

This is a rare pregnancy complication usually diagnosed during the appointment and checkup session with your healthcare provider. Your doctor asks you to take a few tests to confirm the pregnancy. Then they will start looking if the pregnancy is healthy or not.

The doctor uses these three tests to check ectopic pregnancy:

A Urine Test: This is a simple test that is taken either by urinating on the strip or into the cup and dipping the test strip into it. After a while, it will show the negative or positive result in the form of one or two lines.

A Blood Test: This is a more authentic test in which the healthcare provider will likely take your blood and show hormone, specifically human chorionic Genotropin, in your system. It is a special hormone released during pregnancy.

An Ultrasound Examination: This is the last and most reliable test. Ultrasound is an imaging test. This test involves using sound waves to create a picture of the internal organs of the body structure. This is a special kind of test mostly used for confirming and monitoring pregnancy. The doctor will apply it to determine the location of the fertilized egg and if it is safe or not.

Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancy

This is a kind of abnormal pregnancy that is not even 1% safe for the mother. Moreover, if you expect to save the baby, remember that the embryo will not be able to develop fully to be given birth healthily. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the fertilized egg or grown embryo as soon as possible for the mother’s safety.

However, the options for treatment change according to the location of the ectopic pregnancy and its development.

Medication

Your doctors are likely to decide about the expected complication in the pregnancy. In this situation, your healthcare provider can prescribe a few medicines which prevent the ectopic mass from bursting. According to doctors and AAFP, the commonly used and most effective medicine for this situation is methotrexate.

ectopic pregnancy definition

It is a special drug developed to cease the development of embryos and the rapid growth of speedily dividing cells, for instance, the cells of ectopic mass. If the doctor finds this medicine suitable for your condition, they are likely to give it to you in the form of an injection.

To ensure safety, you should also get regular blood tests to make sure that the drug is working adequately. When it is working, the medication is expected to show some symptoms, which are quite similar to miscarriage and sometimes stillbirth. The symptoms include:

    • The passing of tissue

    • Cramping

    • Bleeding

In early detection and immediate action cases, there is no need for surgery. This drug does not carry the same risk of fallopian tube damage, which are a high risk in case of surgery. Anyhow, keep in mind that you will not be able to conceive for several months after taking this medicine.

Surgery

If the healthcare provider fails in ectopic pregnancy diagnosis at the early stages, many doctors will recommend undergoing surgery to remove the mass and repair any internal damage. This surgery is known as laparotomy. In this procedure, the doctors will insert the minimal-sized camera by making a small incision to ensure they can see their tools moving inside them. Then the doctor will eliminate the embryo and repair any damage to the fallopian tube.

If the surgery goes unsuccessful, the surgeon will have to repeat the process, and this time they will have to make a larger incision. In severe cases, the fallopian tube gets damaged. If they find the fallopian tube damaged, they must remove it.

Home Care

After the surgery, the healthcare provider will give instructions about caring for your cut part and stitches. Usually, the main goal is to keep the incision clean and dry to prevent infection and speed healing. You need to closely check the incisions daily to see if there is any sign of infection. The signs can include:

    • Hot to touch

    • Excessive and continuous bleeding

    • Redness

    • Foul-smelling

    • Drainage

    • Swelling

After the surgery, you can expect some minor vaginal bleeding and blood clots. This can happen for more than six weeks after following the procedure. The other healthcare measure you can consider to ensure good health includes:

    • Drinking plenty of liquids to avoid constipation.

    • Do not lift heavy objects

    • Rest as much as you can after the first surgery

    • Pelvic rest, which implies refraining from sexual intercourse, douching, and the use of tampons.

In case you feel the severity of any symptom, notify your doctor to check if everything is fine or not.

Complications

If the ectopic pregnancy diagnosed early, there are usually fewer chances of developing complications. However, if left untreated, it poses a high threat to the life of women. The ectopic pregnancy can cause your fallopian tube and other organ holding fertilization to burst or rupture. It leads to continuous and excessive bleeding, ultimately leading to the mother’s death. In any case, you cannot save the child in an ectopic pregnancy. The more you delay, the more it becomes life-threatening for the mother.

Preventions

Predictions and preventions are not possible in all cases. However, you can minimize the risk by maintaining good reproductive health. You can check if your partner is using protection during intercourse, and you need to limit the number of partners. It is essential to reduce the chances of developing sexually transmitted infections leading to PID. It is a condition that causes inflammation in the fallopian tubes.

Keep visiting the doctor regularly for regular gynecological examinations and sexually transmitted disease screening. You can also take essential steps to ensure good personal health. For example, you can quit smoking and draft an effective preventive strategy.

Living with Ectopic Pregnancy

Whether you discarded ectopic pregnancy with the medications or surgery, your recovery is expected to take a few weeks. You can feel fatigued and tired and have abdominal pain and discomfort. You can also have the feeling of pregnancy for a while. Moreover, your body takes time for the hCG level to normalize in your body.

Here is a thing to remember if you had an ectopic pregnancy, you are likely to have it a second time. You can also face difficulty in getting pregnant again. Therefore, you need to give yourself a chance to heal properly before trying to get pregnant again.

Having this pregnancy complication can be difficult to handle emotionally. You can have mood swings. You can feel sad, angry, and even confused sometimes. Talk about your feelings to your partner, friend, or a trusted family member. They can console you or give better suggestions to overcome the loss. All yourself to grieve the loss of the expecting child.

Conclusion

ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy complication and a health emergency. In this situation, the fertilization settles down in the other organs, usually the fallopian tube, and starts growing. Fallopian tubes are not as flexible as the uterus, so they burst if ectopic pregnancy is not treated timely.

Therefore, you need to see the doctor immediately take professional assistance. The doctor will analyze your situation and suggest treatment accordingly. He will suggest treating the problem with medicine, or they will recommend surgery. Whatever treatment they suggest, remember to take care of yourself properly for a speedy recovery. It can cause problems in getting pregnant for a second time, but remember that it is not impossible.

FAQs

What Medicines are Used to Treat Ectopic Pregnancy?

There are many different drugs used in the treatment of ectopic pregnancy, but the commonly recommended medicine by doctors is methotrexate. This drug has the capability to stop cells from developing, which eliminates pregnancy. Then the pregnancy is dissolved in the body over the time of four to six weeks. The use of the drug, according to the doctor’s recommendation, does not require the elimination of the fallopian tube.

Can an Ectopic Pregnancy Survive?

Fortunately, a woman can survive ectopic pregnancy treated timely, but it is fatal for the fetus. It is impossible for the fetus to survive outside the uterus. If the egg is settled in the fallopian tube and bursts, it leads to excessive bleeding. Therefore, timely treatment is essential for the mother’s well-being, but it is impossible for the fetus to survive.

What are the Possible Side Effects of Ectopic Pregnancy Medicines?

Like other medicines, the consumption of methotrexate may show some side effects. Usually, the women experience pain in the abdomen, while some also see vaginal bleeding, spotting, etc. other downsides can also include:

    • Diarrhea

    • Dizziness

    • Nausea

    • Vomiting

It is crucial to keep visiting the doctor until your medication has stopped. The risk of rupture of the fallopian tube is never over until the end of your treatment. If you have excessive bleeding, pain, lightheadedness, and weakness, immediately seek the doctor, as these are signs of fallopian tubes.

Can an Ectopic Pregnancy disturb the Next Pregnancies?

If you have had any previous ectopic pregnancy, you are naturally at a higher threat of developing it for the second time. In the second or later pregnancy, be cautious to monitor the signs of ectopic pregnancies until the doctor confirms that the next fertilized egg is growing at the expected place.

Can You Survive an Untreated Ectopic Pregnancy?

It is one of the most common causes contributing to the higher maternal mortality rate in the first three months. This is the condition that every woman should know about. It is a life-threatening condition in which an organ is holding the fertilized egg bursts. The ruptured ectopic pregnancy results in excessive bleeding, which leads to death. Therefore, there is no way to survive untreated ectopic pregnancy.

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