Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy can be extremely dangerous if it is not spotted in time.

In fact in some cases a woman can actually die if she doesn't receive treatment, although this is rare with the advances of modern medicine.

What Is It?

An ectopic pregnancy is where a baby develops outside the womb. Usually the embryo develops inside the fallopian tube and there is a risk of rupture if the pregnancy continues. In some cases the body recognizes there is a problem, absorbs the fetus and the situation resolves itself. However, in most cases it is necessary to have either medical or surgical intervention. Unusually, there have been one or two very rare cases of women having an ectopic pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy baby by cesarean section, to the surprise and relief of everyone concerned.

What Are The Symptoms?

Apart from the normal signs of pregnancy you may feel

· Pain in your abdomen, perhaps similar to a severe period pain or very severe cramps

· Pain while going to the bathroom, either while you are urinating or while having a bowel movement

· Vaginal bleeding or spotting

· Weakness and dizziness

· A sense that you could faint or pass out. This can be due to internal bleeding or low blood pressure

· Severe pain in the lower back or pelvis area, or stabbing pains on one side of your pelvis

· Shoulder tip pain

How Is It Discovered?

An ectopic pregnancy is normally discovered somewhere between the fifth and eight week of pregnancy. It can be discovered in a routine scan or by a test of the HCG hormone levels in the blood. HCG levels tend to fall instead of rise when there is an ectopic pregnancy.

New research published in the February 2011 Journal of Proteome Research and in the online version of Fertility and Sterility shows that there is at least one biomarker protein, ADAM12, which indicates an ectopic pregnancy in 97% of cases. Researchers just need to develop an economically viable blood test to discover an ectopic pregnancy much earlier than is currently the case.

What Do They Do?

If an ectopic pregnancy is discovered early enough, the doctor can give you a medicine called methotrexate, which will allow your body to reabsorb the embryo. Another treatment you may be offered is a minilaparotomy or a laparoscopy to remove the embryo. However, if it is an emergency situation where your ovary or fallopian tube ruptures the doctor will have to do a full laparotomy or laparoscopy. This will not only remove the embryo but also the ovary and/or fallopian tube. This will obviously reduce your chances of getting pregnant again, however it doesn't mean that you can't get pregnant. Each situation is different and it depends on exactly what happens in your case, how much scarring there is and so on, so ask your specialist for advice and help.

Risk Factors

There are various risk factors for an ectopic pregnancy

· Chlamydia - latest research shows that having had chlamydia increases your risk

· Smoking -  according to the latest research

· PID - pelvic inflammatory disease

· Endometriosis

· A previous ectopic pregnancy

· Previous fallopian tube infections or fallopian tube surgery

· Getting pregnant over 35

· Certain types of fertility drug treatment

· Getting pregnant while using an IUD

If you suspect you may have an ectopic pregnancy go immediately to see your doctor.
If someone you know is hemorrhaging or is in shock - call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Room. Minutes are vital.

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