Derived from the Greek word “ektopos” meaning “out of place”, ectopic pregnancy is a complication of pregnancy in which the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterine cavity. In simple words, it is a pregnancy that develops outside of the womb. This fertilized egg settles and starts to grow, pulling in the blood supply from wherever it has been implanted. This increases the chances of an organ tear as nothing other than the uterine cavity is designed to expand and hold a baby’s development. If not treated properly, ectopic pregnancy can prove fatal leading to hemorrhage, infertility, and even death of the mother. Medical advancements in early detection and improvement in surgical techniques has brought the maternal mortality rate down to minimum. Though the chances of having an ectopic pregnancy are nominal, about 1 in 50 pregnancies, it cannot be ruled out completely. In this article we’ll be discussing about the types, causes, symptoms, and treatment of ectopic pregnancy.
Types Of Ectopic Pregnancy
Tubal Pregnancy - majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tube.
Non Tubal Pregnancy - pregnancies that occur in the ovary, cervix, or intra-abdominal organs.
Heterotopic Pregnancy - rare cases include implantation of two fertilized eggs, one in the uterus and other outside it.
Persistent Ectopic Pregnancy - also a rare case of continuation of trophoplastic growth even after surgical intervention
Causes For Ectopic Pregnancy
Pelvic inflammatory diseases caused by sexually transmitted organisms such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Having multiple sexual partners can also increase the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.
Disruption in the normal architecture of the fallopian tube.
Prior ectopic pregnancy and tubal surgery.
Increasing age and smoking also contribute to the complication of ectopic pregnancy.
However, it is important to note that this complication can occur in any woman without these risk factors too.
Symptoms Of Ectopic Pregnancy
Early symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include pain in lower abdomen, pain while urinating and having a bowel movement and mild vaginal bleeding. Women with late ectopic pregnancy experience severe pain and bleeding that is both external and internal. External bleeding is because of the falling progesterone levels, while the internal bleeding is caused due to a rupture in the organ. Severe internal bleeding during the latter part of the complication causes pain in the shoulders, lower back, and abdomen. Complications may include hypovolaemic shock caused by the internal hemorrhage and infertility in about 10-15% of the cases.
Treatment Of Ectopic Pregnancy
Since it is a pregnancy-related complication, many of the symptoms present in normal pregnancy are also there because of which many women mistake it for normal pregnancy which makes it all the more important to seek medical counseling at the early stages of pregnancy. With proper diagnosis using the ultrasound or transvaginal ultrasound, this pregnancy complication can be detected and treatment can be provided for. Early detection of the complication can be treated with a drug, a feasible alternative to surgery. However, contraindications of using this drug include kidney, liver, or blood diseases. Surgical intervention may be needed if hemorrhage has already taken place. Depending on the severity, surgeons use laparotomy and decide whether to remove the pregnancy or remove the affected tube.
If you’re pregnant, don’t wait for symptoms to manifest themselves. It’s better to seek medical help during the early stages of pregnancy and be on the safer side.