What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy?

Approximately 1 in 40 pregnancies are ectopic, which means the pregnancy is occurring outside the womb, usually inside one of the fallopian tubes. When this occurs, it can be extremely dangerous for the mother because she may experience life-threatening internal bleeding. Unfortunately, ectopic pregnancies cannot be carried to full term.

What are the risk factors for ectopic pregnancy?

Though an ectopic pregnancy can occur in all women, those with the following conditions are at a higher risk:

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Prior fallopian tube surgery
  • Previous pelvic or abdominal surgery
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Smoking
  • Aged 35 or older
  • History of infertility

What are the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

While ectopic pregnancies can begin much like a healthy pregnancy with tender breasts, a missed menstrual period or morning sickness, sexually active women should be alert to changes in their bodies, especially if they experience any of these signs and symptoms:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Lower back pain
  • Mild pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Mild cramping in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Sudden, severe pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Shoulder pain
  • Weakness, dizziness or fainting

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above—particularly sudden or severe abdominal pain, shoulder pain or fainting—seek immediate emergency medical attention.

How is an ectopic pregnancy diagnosed and treated?

If you do not have any symptoms of a fallopian rupture, but your OB/Gyn suspects you may have an ectopic pregnancy, he or she will perform a series of tests, including:

  • A pelvic exam
  • An ultrasound exam to see where the pregnancy is developing
  • A blood test to check the levels of HCG, a pregnancy hormone

If your doctor diagnoses you with an ectopic pregnancy, it must be treated with either medication or surgery.

The Women’s Wellness Center provides exceptional prenatal care in Huron, South Dakota. Call 888-794-3708 or use our easy online form to schedule an appointment. Our board-certified obstetricians are skilled in the treatment of high-risk pregnancies and are proud to offer comprehensive healthcare for women.