Ectopic pregnancies are rare, with about 2% of pregnancies in the United States being ectopic. However, it is a serious medical condition that needs medical attention and is one of the reasons why getting an ultrasound in the early stages of pregnancy is so important before making a pregnancy decision.
What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. The most common type of ectopic pregnancy is called a tubal pregnancy, when the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tubes. It can also implant in the ovary, abdominal cavity, or the cervix, but these are less common.
What are the Risk Factors?
Previous ectopic pregnancy
STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
Medical condition such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or Endometriosis
History of pelvic surgery, abdominal surgery or multiple abortions
Having an IUD when you get pregnant (though it is rare to get pregnant when you have an IUD)
What Are The Symptoms?
Early symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy can be the same as early pregnancy signs like nausea and tender breasts. The following symptoms are more common with ectopic pregnancy.
Pain in your pelvis, often on one side
If the egg has implanted in your fallopian tube, you may feel pain in your shoulder
Dizziness or fainting
May have bleeding or spotting
Rectal pain or pressure
When to go to the Emergency Room?
In an emergency situation, you may feel pain on one side of your tummy, sudden shoulder pain, extreme dizziness and even fainting. Go to the emergency room immediately if these symptoms occur. This can be a life threatening situation for the pregnant woman.
Will I be able to get treated if abortion is banned in my state?
Yes, you can still be treated for an ectopic pregnancy even if abortion is banned. This is such a good question and there is plenty of misinformation out there. Treatment for ectopic pregnancy is not considered an elective abortion, so even if elective abortions are banned, a woman who has an ectopic pregnancy needs to be treated either medically or surgically. The pregnancy can’t survive outside of the uterus and this situation can be life threatening for the mother. The wording of abortion laws can be confusing, but they will not prevent doctors from treating ectopic pregnancies to save the woman’s life.
What’s the treatment?
You will be evaluated so the best treatment plan for your situation can be decided.
Medical - To treat an ectopic pregnancy, the doctor may prescribe a medication called methotrexate that will stop the pregnancy
Surgical - If surgery is needed, the doctor would perform laparoscopic surgery to remove the fertilized egg and, in some cases, the fallopian tube as well
It is important that doctors catch an ectopic pregnancy early on so they can treat it quickly and safely before it causes life threatening symptoms. It is also important to follow Dr’s orders after treatment for an ectopic pregnancy.
If you are experiencing signs of an ectopic pregnancy as described above, you should go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital. Or if you think you might be pregnant and would like to confirm your pregnancy, please give us a call.
Her Health Women’s Center offers a pregnancy test, limited (non-diagnostic) ultrasound to confirm viability, limited STI testing, and options counseling. No payment or insurance needed.
Disclaimer: The sources cited for this blog are found to be reliable, however, Her Health Women’s Center can not endorse or oppose the entire content of the websites listed. The content of this blog is meant to be used for informational purposes and is not a substitute for medical care.