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Ectopic Pregnancies: Why They Occur, The Symptoms, and How Are They Treated

One out of every 60 pregnancies results in an ectopic pregnancy. These pregnancies are especially hard on the mother as the pregnancy cannot be saved. In addition to the emotional devastation that can result from an ectopic pregnancy, this type of pregnancy places the mother’s health in serious jeopardy. If you have suffered from an ectopic pregnancy, or you fear you may an ectopic pregnancy, this article will help you to understand why the ectopic pregnancy occurred, why you may be at increased risk, what the symptoms are, and the importance of early treatment.

What Causes An Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus; the egg usually attaches itself to the fallopian tube, and these pregnancies are sometimes referred to as tubal pregnancies. The ectopic pregnancy usually occurs because the fertilized egg cannot complete its journey down the fallopian tube.

This may be the result of scar tissue that has developed in the tube as a result of pelvic surgery, repeated induced abortions, or as a result of an STD infection. Inflammation of the fallopian tube from such causes as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or STD infection may also keep the egg from exiting the fallopian tube. An abnormally shaped fallopian tube can also result in the formation of an ectopic pregnancy.

Certain factors may result in an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy for some women. These factors include: women who have had an ectopic pregnancy occur in the past, women who have had abdominal surgery, women who became pregnant while an IUD was in place, and women who are between the ages of 35-44.

Signs and Symptoms Of An Ectopic Pregnancy

Women who experience ectopic pregnancies often have the same signs and symptoms of a normal pregnancy in the early stages. Other signs of an ectopic pregnancy include a sharp stabbing or shooting pain in the pelvis or abdomen area; sometimes a ruptured ectopic pregnancy can cause shooting pains in the shoulder and neck area as well.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting can occur in addition to abnormal periods that are either heavier or lighter than usual. Dizziness, feelings of muscular weakness and fainting may also occur. Abnormal hormonal levels that are revealed from blood tests, such as low hCG levels or low levels of progesterone, may alert your doctor to a possible ectopic pregnancy. An ultrasound can confirm the ectopic pregnancy.

Ectopic Pregnancy Treatments

An ectopic pregnancy unfortunately cannot be saved. There are generally only two treatments options available. The first treatment uses the medication Methotrexate which will end the pregnancy and allow the woman’s body to absorb the tissue from the pregnancy without surgical intervention. The second treatment is to have the pregnancy surgically removed through laparoscopic surgery.

Early diagnosis and treatment of an ectopic pregnancy is essential to the mother’s health and to any possibility of a normal pregnancy in the future. If an ectopic pregnancy is not treated, the fallopian tube will become stretched and eventually rupture. Vaginal hemorrhaging can occur, and emergency surgery must be carried out immediately to remove the fallopian tube and stop the bleeding.

If you have experienced an ectopic pregnancy, it is still possible for you to have a normal pregnancy. Find out why the fertilized egg was unable to make it to the uterus, and what you can do in the future to have a normal pregnancy.

Video: Ectopic Pregnancy Animated

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