What is Ectopic Pregnancy?
Ectopic pregnancy is a known complication where the fertilized egg grows outside the uterus. The common areas of implantation include fallopian tubes, the lower part of your cervix, or your belly. Studies suggest that approximately 1 out of 50 pregnancies are ectopic. As the fertilized egg develops, it may burst and present pain, vaginal bleeding, and nausea. Ectopic pregnancies cause pregnancy-related deaths in the first trimester. Therefore, it is necessary to seek medical help right away.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy
The early signs of ectopic pregnancies during the first few weeks are:
a) Abnormal vaginal bleeding
b) Sharp abdominal and lower back pain
c) Frequent cramps in the stomach or a particular side of the pelvis.
These symptoms are often confused with a normal pregnancy. However, as ectopic pregnancies develop (i.e. case of fallopian tube ruptures), we may experience more severe symptoms. These include:
a) Occasional abdominal or pelvis pain
b) Shoulder stress
c) Extreme weakness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
It is observed that a ruptured fallopian tube is life-threatening. We should immediately seek medical help in case the above symptoms arise.
Causes and Risks of Ectopic Pregnancy
A ruptured fallopian may result in ectopic pregnancy. Damaged fallopian tubes pose high risks of infections, inflammation, and tubular dysfunctions. It prevents the proper implantation of the eggs or the oocytes in the uterus.
Other causes identified for ectopic pregnancies are:
a) Age: women of advanced age are at risk for developing ectopic pregnancies. Aged fallopian tubes have decreased functions. It reduces the proper transport of oocytes to the uterus.
b) Lifestyle: obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc., contribute to ectopic pregnancies. Moreover, a history of ectopic pregnancy further increases the risk compared to other women.
c) Women on fertility drugs, having undergone tubal ligation and pelvic surgery causes ectopic pregnancies.
d) Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or sexually transmitted disease may lead to ectopic pregnancies.
e) Women undergoing fertility treatment, i.e., in vitro fertilization (IVF), also increases the possibility of ectopic pregnancies.
When should I consult a doctor?
The symptoms related to an ectopic pregnancy are often confused with normal pregnancies. However, if you notice abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain, or cramps in the stomach, you must consult your doctor immediately. Your caregiver conducts required investigations like ultrasound, pelvic examination, and blood tests. Blood tests help to monitor pregnancy hormone levels. In case of any symptoms, book an appointment at Apollo Fertility, Varanasi, by calling 1860-50-4424.
Treatment and Management of Ectopic Pregnancy
Medication or surgery is the treatment strategy for ectopic pregnancies. However, treatment procedure depends upon the clinical status of patients. Patient status is confirmed; through radiological and laboratory findings.
Administration of Methotrexate is the popular medication used to treat ectopic pregnancies. This drug functions to stop the cells from developing, therefore, ending the pregnancies. It is then gradually absorbed by the body after 6-8 weeks. This process does not involve the removal of fallopian tubes. Different factors are observed; for deciding the dose and quantity of methotrexate. Blood tests indicating the hCG level are a necessary guideline for methotrexate dose. Lower levels of hCG indicate single-dose. Higher levels may require multiple-dose. hCG hormone is monitored regularly after methotrexate treatment, to avoid drug-related side effects.
Surgery is necessary in case of symptoms like sharp abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding. These symptoms indicate ruptured fallopian tubes and clinical instability. The surgical procedure involves partial or complete tube removal depending upon the severity of symptoms.
Ectopic Pregnancy is a known complication of pregnancies. It is life-threatening if not diagnosed early. 1 to 2% of the general population is estimated to suffer from ectopic pregnancies. It is necessary to identify the early symptoms and consult your doctor immediately. Early detection is required; for the correct treatment and management of the condition.
Medication or surgical treatment may cause anxiety and tiredness. It may take several weeks to recover. You may feel mild abdominal pain or discomfort. In case of persistent pain, you should consult your doctor right away.
Ectopic pregnancies may be exhausting and traumatic. It is necessary to take time and work on your feelings. Counselling sessions with your caregiver are recommended. Several online forums are also helpful for women going through an ectopic pregnancy.
A history of ectopic pregnancies increases the risk of developing another one. In case of future pregnancies, consult your doctor to confirm whether the egg is growing in the right place.
Women may experience abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding as common side effects. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness and diarrhoea. In case of severe symptoms, consult your doctor.