Ectopic Pregnancy – 10 Symptoms Not to Ignore
An ectopic pregnancy is also known as tubal pregnancy. This type of pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself somewhere else rather than in the uterus lining. Many such pregnancies happen inside the fallopian tube, but may also occur in the cervix, ovary or abdominal cavity. These types of pregnancies are rather difficult to diagnose.
- This type of pregnancy doctors consider as a common and even life-threatening situation, which affects nearly one in every 100 pregnancies. This type of pregnancy happens when the fertilized egg is ‘implanted’ outside the womb’s cavity, most frequently in the fallopian tube.
- As the pregnancy term extends, even the fallopian tube start to stretch which leads to pain. If this condition is left untreated, the tube can burst, which causes internal bleeding. This internal bleeding can make one collapse or even die.
- The symptoms associated with these pregnancies are similar to normal pregnancy symptoms. However, some women do not have any symptoms at all. As a pregnancy begins to develop somewhere else other than the uterus, there is no location for the placenta to join.
- If left untreated, this type of pregnancy developing inside the fallopian tube may finally cause the fallopian tube to rupture. Any complications resulting from a ruptured tube can become life threatening.
10 symptoms of ectopic pregnancies
Vaginal bleeding or recognizing –
Vaginal bleeding may be one of the initial warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy. Even though bleeding in the early stage of pregnancy does not necessarily mean there is something wrong, if you do experience bleeding or recognizing you must immediately report the incident to your physician.
Slow rising of hCG levels –
If your doctor suspects an ectopic pregnancy or vaginal recognizing, he may run a quantitative hCG in order to look in the initial stages. The slow rising in the hCG levels acts as an indicator of such pregnancies.
Normal or mild cramping during the early stage of pregnancy is common, although cramping along with spotting or severe cramping is not normal. If you have cramping on your one side or if it is similar to menstrual cramps, this may be an indication of an ectopic pregnancy.
Experiencing dizziness is another sign of an ectopic pregnancy. This can be a result of internal bleeding which could also be a result of one not eating properly, does not obtain enough sleep or is anemic.
Pain on one facet –
Women can observe mild to severe abdominal pain in either side of the abdomen, and if you have this symptom, you should immediately contact your physician. However, not every woman with an ectopic pregnancy will notice pain, however after the tube has ruptured, the pain can also get intense and severe.
Feeling constipated, gas pain or rectal pressure –
Sometimes the pain that you may feel can be mistaken for constipation or gas pain. If the pain is accompanied by internal bleeding, it can exert pressure on the rectal section.
Low blood pressure –
If an ectopic pregnancy is undiagnosed and you have internal bleeding, this might cause low blood pressure. You may feel tired, exhausted and feel breathless.
Shoulder pain –
Shoulder pain can occur when the pregnancy has ruptured. The internal bleeding, which occurs due to the rupture of the tube can even cause an irritation of the nerves which finally leads to shoulder pain. This pain in the shoulder indicates that the tube has ruptured already. Hence, it is important to get medical attention, if you notice shoulder pain along with any of the symptoms we have discussed..
As morning illness is a common occurrence during the initial stage of pregnancy, this sign can be difficult to distinguish from other traditional symptoms of pregnancy. However if there is nausea coupled with any of the other symptoms, you need to consult your physician.
When the tube ruptures, you may experience internal bleeding which causes the body to go into shock. These pregnancies can be life threatening, hence, a ruptured fallopian tube may require surgery, hospitalization or even blood transfusion. If you experience any shock symptoms like fainting, weakness, sweating, dizziness, anxiety or clod clammy skin, you must immediately consult your doctor.
I hope you are now aware of the 10 symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. It is important that you consult your doctor if you experience any of these signs. Take care of yourself!
Here is a detailed description about the
signs, causes, risk factors and treatment of ectopic pregnancy.
Any pregnancy initiates with a fertilized eyes. The fertilized egg, normally, attaches to the uterus lining. In the case of this type of pregnancy, this fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere else. This type of pregnancy occurs in one of the fallopian tubes which carry the egg from the ovaries to the fallopian tubes located in the uterus. In very rare cases, such pregnancy can occur in the cervix, ovary or abdomen.
Such pregnancies can’t normally proceed. The egg fails to survive, and the growing tissue can damage different maternal structures. If left untreated, even huge blood loss is quite possible. Hence, early treatment of such pregnancy definitely helps to preserve the possibility for healthy pregnancies in the future.
To have a clear picture what is an ectopic pregnancy, check out this animated video clip
What are the Causes?
In normal cases, a fertilized egg is transferred from the ovary from the fallopian tube to the womb, where it is implanted on the wall after 6-7 days post fertilization. In this type of pregnancy, the egg does not travel to the womb or uterus but gets implanted outside the womb. This usually occurs in either one of the fallopian tubes wherein it does not develop properly.
In several cases, the exact reason of an ectopic pregnancy is still unknown, although it occurs due to some form of damage to the tube. This tube can become narrow or blocked by previous infection or surgery. The most important cause of infection is Chlamydia that has no symptoms. This includes salpingitis, PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and pelvic sepsis.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
In several cases, a woman with an ectopic pregnancy, cannot experience any symptoms or indication of expecting a baby. If they do occur, initial signs and symptoms, can be the same as those of a normal pregnancy – fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness and a missed period. It will be positive if you think it is pregnancy and take rest.
However, this kind of pregnancy one is not able to continue normally. The initial warning signals of an ectopic pregnancy include:
- Cramps on one side of the pelvis
- Lower abdominal pain
- Light vaginal bleeding
When the fallopian bursts or ruptures, the signs may include:
- Stabbing, sharp pain in the neck or shoulder, abdomen or pelvis
When to See Your Health Care Provider
Seek emergency medical help or call 911 if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Shock, fainting or extreme lightheaded
- Strong feeling to defecate sans results
- Shoulder pain
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Severe abdominal pain
Who is at Risk?
Any woman who is sexually active and has reached child- bearing age is susceptible to an ectopic pregnancy, although the presence of any of the following factors can increase the risk:
- Age between 25-34
- Any previous history of pelvic inflammatory disease, like Chlamydia
- Any previous surgery in the abdominal area like appendix removal
- Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD)
- Intake of progesterone contraceptive pills
- Women who have had an ectopic pregnancy
- IVF treatment
What are the Risk Factors?
Around 20 in every 1000 pregnancies are ectopic in nature. Various factors linked to ectopic pregnancies, include:
If you ever experienced an ectopic pregnancy before, you are more susceptible to have another one.
Infection or Inflammation:
Most women with such pregnancies have experienced either fallopian tube inflammation (salpingitis) or an infection in the ovaries, fallopian tubes or uterus (pelvic inflammatory disease). Chlamydia or gonorrhea can result in tubal problems that increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
Intake of drugs in order to stimulate ovulation can also increase the risk.
Ectopic pregnancies are more likely when one has an unusually shaped tube or if the tube is damaged during an operation.
When IUD or birth control pills are taken as per the correct instructions, pregnancy is very rare. If not it is possible to have an ectopic pregancy.
What are the Treatment Options?
In many cases, such pregnancies can be treated immediately to prevent any rupture and excessive blood loss. The primary decision regarding which method of treatment to implement depends on your overall condition and how early is it detected. In a early pregnancy period which does not cause any bleeding, one has a choice between surgery or using medicines to terminate the pregnancy.
In order to end such a pregnancy, you can use methotrexate. This medicine helps you to avoid an incision as well as general anaesthesia. However, it does lead to several side effects.
It can take many weeks of conducting hormone blood-level testing to ensure the success of the treatment. This medicine effectively works:
- When the embryo does not exhibit any cardiovascular activity
- In the initial 6 weeks of your pregnancy
- When the levels of pregnancy hormones (such as human chorionic gonadotropin) are considerably low. It must be less than 5,000.
If you have an ectopic pregnancy which leads to high levels of hCG, bleeding or severe symptoms, immediate surgery is required. This is important as medicines are not going to work in such cases, and a rupture is highly possible if the pregnancy is prolonged. Wherever possible, a laparoscopy is performed whereby a small incision is made. If you have a ruptured pregnancy, then emergency surgery is crucial.
If you are in the early stages of pregnancy and it appears to be aborting naturally on its own, there is no need to seek any treatment. Your physician will test your blood regularly to ensure that your levels of pregnancy hormones are lowering. This kind of monitoring is called expectant management.
Such pregnancies can be sometimes resistant to any method of treatment. This happens:
- If bleeding does not stop or hCG levels do not lower even after taking Methotrexate. Hence, you must opt for surgery.
- Post surgery, you can take the Methotrexate afterwards.
- If you have Rh-negative blood type, then Rh immunoglobulin is given in order to protect any possible pregnancies in the future against Rh sensitization.
Medicine Versus Surgery – Think About It!
- The medicine, Methoterxate is generally considered as the first choice of treatment in the initial stage of pregnancy. Post the injection of the medicine, daily follow-up blood tests are required for weeks to come.
- Various types of surgical options are available – whenever possible, only a small incision is made in the tubes, instead of removing a tubal section. . This former is a salpingostomy and the latter a salpingectomy.
- Surgery can be your only option for treating the condition if you have completed more than 6 weeks of term or if you are experiencing internal bleeding.
It is important to report to and consult your doctor, if you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. Be careful and take notice if there are any changes in your pregnancy.