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Ectopic Pregnancies – An Overview

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As defined by the Mayo Clinic, an ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself somewhere other than the lining of the uterus. The fertilized egg will not survive under these conditions and can possibly cause damage to the reproductive organs. In advanced cases, this type of pregnancy may even be fatal due to excessive blood loss.

The Causes

There are several reasons why an ectopic pregnancy may occur. In some cases, it’s due to excessive scar tissue and damage to the fallopian tube itself. Consequently, it becomes impossible for the egg to pass on to the uterus. The risk of an ectopic pregnancy is increased if the individual has had:

• A previous ectopic pregnancy

• Inflammation or infection – this has been found to be a major risk factor. Women who have inflammation of the tubes, PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), any STD or even endometriosis are in danger of an ectopic pregnancy

• Fertility problems – fertilization medicines increase your risk

• Structural problems of your reproductive organs – this is especially so if the fallopian tubes are damaged

• Use of birth control pills or IUD – if pregnancy occurs when using birth control pills or an IUD, the risk increases for an ectopic pregnancy

What to Look For - Symptoms

Usually, this condition has signs that are identical to a normal pregnancy – missed period, nausea and fatigue. When taking a pregnancy test, the results may even show positive. In most cases, however, this type of pregnancy does not have early signs or symptoms at all. The signs come later and may include:

Light vaginal bleeding
Lower abdominal pain
Cramping on one side of the pelvis

If the fallopian tube ruptures, symptoms may include:

Sharp, stabbing pain in the pelvis, abdomen, or even the shoulder and neck
Light headedness

The Mayo Clinic recommends calling 911 for emergency help when your symptoms have escalated to:

Severe abdominal pain
Heavy vaginal bleeding
Shoulder pain
A strong urge to defecate without results
Extreme light headedness, fainting or shock

How is the problem handled? Doctors will perform the necessary tests before concluding what your problems is. Once an ectopic pregnancy is found, the fertilized egg has to be removed. It cannot survive outside of the womb and can cause permanent damage to your reproductive organs if left undisturbed. So depending on how early or advanced the pregnancy is, doctors can use a drug injection or surgery to remove the fertilized egg.

Resource: Mayo Clinic

Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer who is a tireless advocate for women’s health issues and rare disease awareness.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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