Normally, the egg gets fertilized by the sperm in the fallopian tube. This fertilized egg or embryo then travels through the tubes into the uterus, over a matter of 3-4 days. Once the embryo gets implanted in the woman’s uterus, over time it grows into a baby. In 1-2% of all conceptions, this fertilized egg may implant outside the woman’s uterus. In some cases, it may implant in one of the fallopian tubes, the cervix, ovary or the abdomen. This is called an ectopic pregnancy.
This is a dangerous condition for the woman and in almost all cases; it’s not possible to carry the baby to term outside the uterus. So, what causes this kind of a pregnancy, what are its symptoms and are you at risk?
Ectopic Pregnancy-The Causes
Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the woman’s fallopian tubes. The different causes of ectopic pregnancy:
• When the fallopian tubes are partially blocked, the early embryo is unable to travel to the uterus. Almost 50% of ectopic pregnancies are connected to some kind of fallopian tube damage. This is commonly a result of prior pelvic infections like Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or other STDs. It could also be a result of previous pelvic surgery, appendicitis or endometriosis
• Women who conceive after reversal of tubal ligation/ any other tubal surgery are at a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy
• Those who are undergoing fertility treatment are at a slightly higher risk of ectopic pregnancy
• Women above 35 years of age or those who have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past or have become pregnant despite having an IUD- Intrauterine Device in place , also fall in a higher risk category.
If you have an ectopic pregnancy, the standard pregnancy symptoms including nausea and breast tenderness will be present. The other symptoms could be:
• Lower back pain
• Slight cramping on one side of the pelvis
• Abnormal vaginal bleeding
• Pain in the pubic area or lower belly
• Delayed/abnormal menstruation
If you suspect or know that you are pregnant and have been experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important that you consult your doctor without delay. Your doctor will order tests that measure hCG level (a hormone that is produced by the placenta) in your blood to confirm you are pregnant.
In addition, an ultrasound of the uterus may also be performed to look for the pregnancy in your uterus. These different tests will help your doctor identify the pregnancy in its early stages, before it results in internal bleeding caused by a ruptured ectopic . If this occurs, your life can be at risk.
You can track your pregnancy to rule out the possibility of an ectopic at www.hcgexpert.in
Emergency Treatment Maybe Necessary if the Diagnosis is Delayed or Missed
Fortunately, in the present day, ultrasound examinations and HCG testing help discover most ectopic pregnancies early on, much before the patient even realizes that there is a problem. An early diagnosis means the ectopic can be treated with medical therapy. This is usually a methotrexate injection, to kill the embryo. However , if the diagnosis is delayed and the embryos is allowed to grow in the fallopian tube, then emergency surgical treatment may be needed to remove the ectopic pregnancy.
The good news is that over 30% of women who have had an ectopic pregnancy have normal pregnancies in the future. Since this type of a pregnancy is typically caused by tubal damage, it’s important that you consult an infertility doctor for possible IVF treatment as this will improve your chances of a normal intrauterine pregnancy.
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