Ectopic Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

By Korir Isaac / December 29, 2018 | 1:54 am




It is very unlikely that you could ever imagine your pregnancy developing in the fallopian tubes, instead of the uterus as is the norm, but it happens. It doesn’t matter if you have ever had a history of the condition before or not, it can happen to any woman and this type of pregnancy is known as ectopic pregnancy.

The word ectopic means “out of place” which hints on the development of an ectopic pregnancy. It occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself outside the uterus, particularly the fallopian tubes.

Of all the reported cases of ectopic pregnancies, 95 percent occur in the fallopian tubes and that is why they are sometimes referred to as tubal pregnancies. What this means is that they occur in 1 out of 50 pregnancies. Sometimes, the pregnancy happens in the ovaries but rarely in the abdominal cavity or cervix.

The fallopian tubes, also known as the oviducts, weren’t meant to support a growing embryo, which is why the fertilized egg attached to them cannot develop appropriately calling for immediate treatment.

Over the years, the numbers have increased for a number of reasons one being fallopian tube damage resulting from sexually transmitted infection (STIs).

Other Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy

  • Surgical procedure due to an infection or an inflammation of the fallopian tube, which causes blockage either partially or entirely.
  • Scar tissue that impedes the movement of the egg, possibly from a previous surgery.
  • Birth defects and abnormal growth that distort the shape of the tube.
  • Adhesions in the tubes resulting from pelvic surgeries.

Risk Factors for an Ectopic Pregnancy

Women aged between 35 and 44 years often get ectopic pregnancies. Also, a previous ectopic pregnancy, pelvic or abdominal surgery, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), a number of induced abortions, the use of an IUD (intra-uterine device) as contraceptive, smoking, endometriosis, or undergoing fertility treatments or the use of fertility medications are other risk factors.

Dangers of an Ectopic Pregnancy

A tubal pregnancy can be life-threatening to a woman. Quite a number of deaths resulting from birth complications are related to tubal pregnancy but a woman can prevent this likely fatal condition by limiting her sexual relations to one person thus, diminishing her chances of contracting STIs, which can damage the fallopian tubes.

In most cases, women have no control over whether the egg will develop normally. When it gets stuck on the way to the uterus, the woman may suffer from shock due to blood loss, and sometimes the condition can be fatal.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

  • Lower abdominal pain that is cramped and one-sided
  • Slight virginal bleeding
  • Pain after the rapture –usually after three months
  • Vague or diffused pain that can easily be mistaken for period cramps.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Weakness, fainting, or dizziness

Treatment of an Ectopic Pregnancy

A woman should not give up after an ectopic pregnancy she can still have other children, although the chances may reduce if the treatment requires one of the tubes to be removed. The methods of treatment vary today and their success largely depends on early diagnosis.

They include:

 Laparotomy

This is the most invasive of all the methods of retreating a tubal pregnancy. It’s a surgery that is used when a fallopian tube raptures and when it’s imperative that bleeding is stopped.  In this method, doctors attempt to repair the tube using microsurgery, but if it cannot be preserved it is removed.

 Laparoscopy

Here the patient is placed under anesthesia and then a laser or microsurgery is used to remove the fetus and repair the tube.

Intramuscular Injection of Methotrexate

This is a drug that is usually used for cancer chemotherapy. It is given to dissolve an early ectopic pregnancy when there is no sign of blood leakage. Its side effects include nausea, depression of the bone marrow and suppression of the immune response system. Doctors, therefore, do not use it routinely on their patients.

It is important to remember that should you experience any of the symptoms during pregnancy, or bleeding that lasts longer than a few minutes, consult your doctor immediately.





About Korir Isaac

A creative, tenacious, and passionate journalist with impeccable ethics and a nose for anticipated and spontaneous news. He may not say it, but he sure can make one hell of a story.

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