Ectopic Pregnancy

In a normal pregnancy, the egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and then makes its way back to the uterus where it implants in the uterine lining. In the case of an ectopic or tubal pregnancy, the egg doesn't make it back to the uterus and instead implants in the fallopian tube. In very rare cases, a fertilized egg may implant in the abdomen, ovary or in the cervix.

Mission Impossible

It is impossible for an ectopic pregnancy to progress normally. The fertilized egg cannot survive and as it grows in the tube, there is imminent danger of damage to the reproductive organs. If the situation is not treated, it becomes life-threatening due to extreme loss of blood. Through early treatment of an ectopic pregnancy, the chance for healthy future pregnancies is preserved.

Everything Looked Fine, And Then...

At first, an ectopic pregnancy seems to be normal. The pregnancy test returns positive and early pregnancy symptoms of sore breasts, morning sickness and tiredness are present. However, things begin to change as warning signals appear. Light bleeding, pain in the lower abdomen and cramps on one side of the pelvis are all early signs of an ectopic pregnancy. If the pregnancy progresses to the point where the fallopian tube ruptures, the woman will experience a sharp, stabbing pain in the abdomen or pelvis and sometimes even in the neck or shoulder. Dizziness and lightheadedness also accompany the pain. Any of these signs beg immediate medical attention.

Risk Factors Associated With Ectopic Pregnancy

About 20 in 1,000 pregnancies are ectopic. There are a variety of factors associated with ectopic pregnancies and are considered high risk. If a woman has had one ectopic pregnancy, she is at higher risk for another. Infection is another common factor in ectopic pregnancies. Nearly 50 percent of all cases of ectopic pregnancies are in women who have had inflammation or infection of the fallopian tube, uterus, or ovaries. Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia are frequent causes of tubal problems that increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Endometriosis and PCOS are other common causes.

It has become evident that in vitro fertilization medications are another risk factor as they stimulate greater production of eggs. Uterine structure plays a part as well. If the fallopian tubes are irregular or the uterus is misshapen, a tubal pregnancy may result. Sometimes contraception fails and the result most often is an ectopic pregnancy. A tubal ligation reversal is also a cause of ectopic pregnancy, even though pregnancy after a reversal is rare.

There Is Still Hope

Even though a woman has had an ectopic pregnancy, it is possible for her to have a normal pregnancy and delivery. If one tube is damaged or has been removed, the other tube may be fit to transport the egg. In the case of permanent damage to the tubes, in vitro fertilization is an option many women use.

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In an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo (the fertilized egg) implants in a different area of the reproductive tract than the uterus. Although the most common location for an ectopic pregnancy is the fallopian tube, in rare instances, it might also implant in the ovary or abdomen. Ectopic pregnancies are not viable-- meaning the embryo cannot develop into a healthy fetus -- and pose serious danger to the woman’s body. They require prompt treatment. Once treatment is complete, the patient begins the sometimes difficult process of recovering from an ectopic pregnancy.
In January of 2012 I suffered from a natural heterotopic pregnancy with the results of losing both babies and my left tube. I started Clomid in August and soon discovered that we were pregnant. Unfortunately, it was another ectopic pregnancy in my right tube. We have been married for over 7 years and have been praying for a family. In February/March I will go and get a dye test for my right tube and I HOPE that everything is good, if not we will try with IVF after having another surgery to remove the tube. It is hard to register that you cannot give your husband a child and seeing all your friends and family having babies without trouble. I am just praying that our day will come soon. I am 32 and feel that time is closing in on me.