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Ectopic pregnancy can also be called pregnancy which occurs out of the normal place i.e. uterus. Normally the fertilized egg travels through the fallopian tube and sticks to the wall of uterus and starts growing as per the natural schedule. In case of ectopic pregnancy the fertilized egg gets stuck in the fallopian tube. This is called tubal pregnancy. In rare cases there could be ectopic pregnancy occurring in the ovaries, stomach area or cervix.

This is a life threatening condition for the mother and of course the foetus does not survive. Researchers have found that the main cause of ectopic pregnancy is blocked fallopian tubes which prevents or slows down movement of the fertilized egg through it to reach the uterus. Due to this it gets stuck there and starts to grow.

What causes ectopic pregnancy ?

Generally this condition occurs due to the defect in the fallopian tubes which exists from the time of birth. It could also happen due to complication caused by rupture of appendix. In case there are instances of ectopic pregnancy earlier also, special care is needed while planning further pregnancy. In some cases, surgeries carried on the woman in the past, in the region could also damage a fallopian tube or both tubes.

As per the statisticians, ectopic pregnancy happens in 1 out of 100 pregnancies reported. In certain cases it has been found that there are no apparent defects in the system of a woman but ectopic pregnancy is still reported. This could be due to hormonal reasons. The risk of this type of pregnancy increases in case the woman is more than 35 years of age, or if she gets pregnant even after having got intrauterine device implanted. In case there are birth defects in the tubes, tubal ligation failure and the woman has undergone surgery to unite the tubes or the tubes are tied, the chances of ectopic pregnancy increase. Sometimes, women indulging in sex with many partners are also likely to have ectopic pregnancy.

Early signs of ectopic pregnancy
  • Vaginal ultrasound and blood test to check count of ‘Beta HCG’ hormone level is done to detect ectopic pregnancy. In case there is a rise in the quantitative level of HCG over a period of 1 or 2 days, this will indicate normal pregnancy instead of existence of ectopic pregnancy.
  • A woman who has undergone ectopic pregnancy will show the symptoms of normal pregnancy such as breast tenderness or nausea. However there is profuse vaginal bleeding, acute low back pain, pain in lower belly or pelvic area and mild cramps on one side of the pelvic area. This is the main symptom for detection of ectopic pregnancy by a layman.
  • In case of rupture of the area around abnormal pregnancy there is excessive bleeding, with the woman fainting or having feeling of fainting, there is intense pressure on rectum, the blood pressure generally falls and there is intense and shooting pain in the lower abdomen area which could go up to the shoulders in some cases.
Medical treatment
  • If the ectopic pregnancy is detected in very early stage like within one month, specialist doctors may prescribe ‘Methotrexate injection’ to overcome this abnormal pregnancy and life threatening for the woman.
  • In case ectopic pregnancy has been detected after few months longer period, surgery is needed to remove abnormal fetus and repair the damaged tissues. In case there is no rupture, mini laparotomy and laparoscopic surgery will help remove this pregnancy.
  • As this is a life threatening condition, it cannot be allowed to continue for the full term and must be removed to save the life of the mother. In case of delayed treatment and rupture of the area it becomes a case of emergency treatment. The patient can go into shock and may require immediate blood transfusion, intravenous fluid injection in the body and oxygen mask.

Depending upon the age of the woman who had ectopic pregnancy, almost one third of the women can have subsequent normal pregnancy and deliver a baby. However some women are unable to do so thereafter. When there are otherwise indications of pregnancy and there is abnormal vaginal bleeding or pain in lower abdomen or pelvic area immediate consultation with the doctor is needed. Early diagnose and treatment will help save the life of the mother to be.