- Ectopic pregnancy is the reason for 6 percent of maternal deaths
- Heavy vaginal bleeding is a major symptom
- It can risk the life of the mother if left untreated
- Medication and surgery are available to treat the ectopic pregnancy
- Future pregnancy depends on the physical and mental fitness of the woman
Ectopic pregnancy is the condition of implantation and development of fertilized ovum outside the uterus cavity. It usually occurs in the fallopian tube, hence known as tubal pregnancy(97%). But, a fertilized egg may also get implanted in the abdominal cavity, ovary or cervix (neck of the uterus).
In a normal pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall and thus able to develop into an embryo. But in an ectopic pregnancy, since the fertilized egg will be implanted somewhere else, it would not get sufficient environment to grow and sometimes it causes harm to other organs.
As per the statistics, an ectopic pregnancy occurs in 1 out of 150 pregnancies, and about 93 to 97 percent will be in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy is the reason for 6 percent of maternal deaths worldwide as it can cause heavy blood loss.
An ectopic pregnancy may show signs of a normal pregnancy, but a pelvic examination or an ultra sound screening can only reveal the absence of implanted egg in the uterus.
According to experts, the ectopic pregnancy shows symptoms of a normal pregnancy including missed period, nausea or vomiting. A pregnancy test may also come out as positive.
But usually, as the pregnancy develops, the woman may get signs like:
- Light vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal and pelvic pain
- Dizziness and syncopal attacks
- Tender cervix, Tense and tender abdomen
- Pale patient with persistently high pulse rate.
If the bleeding becomes heavy, it can lead to a life-threatening situation. Lower than normal level of hCG during pregnancy can be another sign of the possibility of ectopic pregnancy.
Even though there are incidents of survived ectopic pregnancy with live births, it usually will not last and if left untreated may risk the life of the mother. Some rare cases in the past had paved way to healthy babies despite the ectopic pregnancy. When the egg is implanted outside the uterus, supply of blood and nutrients and other environmental factors affect the growth of the fertilized egg normally. But in some cases, the egg overcomes all those restrictions.
In an incident happened in 1999, the pregnancy was confirmed and could not diagnose ectopic in ultra sound scanning. The baby grew outside uterus with a nourishing supply of blood and nutrient through a uterine fibroid along the uterus wall.
If diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy early itself, it is usually aborted medically in order to save the life of the mother. An injection of the drug methotrexate hinders the growth of the embryo, and thus termination takes place automatically. But, it is also important to confirm that the pregnancy is ectopic.
If the doctor thinks that the pregnancy had completed the stage of injecting drugs, a laparoscopy surgery will be conducted to terminate the pregnancy. During laparoscopy, an incision will be made in the abdomen or nearby locations, and the pregnancy is terminated. If the fallopian tube has been damaged severely, it may be removed for the better health of the baby.
After the treatment, it is crucial to monitor the hCG level in your blood. An increased hCG level despite the treatment may be a hint of remaining embryo tissues in the fallopian tube. In such cases, it will be removed either by medication or surgery.
What are the risk factors of Ectopic pregnancy?
Nobody can prevent the occurrence of ectopic pregnancy. Early detection and treatment is the only way before us, and it is effective. Meanwhile, some factors increase your risks of having an ectopic pregnancy.
Some of them are:
- Maternal age
- Occurrence of ectopic pregnancy previously
- Pelvic or abdominal surgery
- Contraceptive failure:
- Conceiving while an IUD (contraception) is present in the body
- Failure of tubal sterilization operation
- Fertility treatment
- Pelvic inflammatory diseases
It is quite natural to question the reasons for having an ectopic pregnancy. It is not your fault or your partner’s fault. It may not even have a reason. But, infection of the fallopian tube is a crucial one that can be the reason for ectopic pregnancy. Previous pelvic surgery, abnormal growths or congenital disabilities causing abnormality in the tube’ shape can also act as the reasons for an ectopic pregnancy.
Losing a pregnancy can affect the woman badly. Though it was an ectopic pregnancy, the emotions and dreams are same and coping with it needs support. It can also trigger a fear about the future pregnancy. According to gynecologists, an ectopic pregnancy will not affect the woman’s health for a normal pregnancy in the future. Once the woman is back to health, physically and mentally, she would be ready for another pregnancy. Early scanning and blood test can avoid chances of ectopic pregnancy and reassure the occurrence of normal pregnancy.