An ectopic pregnancy sometimes referred to as a tubal pregnancy, always results ina non-viable pregnancy. This is because the fertilized egg cannot survive when outside of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus- most commonly the fallopian tube. Since only the uterus is designed to stretch as the embryo grows, an ectopic pregnancy can cause the fallopian tube to rupture which is a life-threatening situation that requires emergency treatment.
Symptoms of a Tubal PregnancyIn the first few weeks of any pregnancy there are some “symptoms” that often happen – sore breasts, missing your period, fatigue, nausea and morning sickness. However, when there is an ectopic pregnancy there are some significant differences. These signs are:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic or belly pain- specifically sharp pains on one side of your Lower belly
- Shoulder pain
- Low blood pressure
- Extreme lightheadedness or fainting
The Causes of an Ectopic PregnancyWhile anyone can have an ectopic pregnancy, there are factors that can contribute to them. These causes include:
- History- If you have had a tubal pregnancy in the past, then the chance of a second one is much higher.
- Tubal Surgery – surgery to correct closed or damaged fallopian tubes can increase the risk of an embryo getting stuck in the fallopian tube
- Infection – A history of PID, pelvic inflammatory disease, or gonorrhea/chlamydia, which can cause scarring to the fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries and cervix can result in a tubal pregnancy.
- Smoking – The more you smoke the greater your risk of an ectopic pregnancy due to tubal malfunction.
- Birth Control- While an IUD prevents pregnancy, it is not infallible. Women who get become pregnant with an IUD in place are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy. In addition, a tubal ligation, getting one’s tubes tied, makes the risk of a tubal pregnancy higher should you still become pregnant.
- Fertility – There has been some research that suggests that women who have in vitro fertilization (IVF) are more prone to an ectopic pregnancy.