Ectopic pregnancy

Parentree-editors 2008-09-01 22:26:17

In this condition, the fertilized egg instead of moving down to the uterus to develop gets stuck outside the uterus usually in the fallopian tube and starts to grow there.  It is not very common and research shows that it occurs in about 1 - 2% of pregnancies1.


While the causes are not clear, certain factors do increase the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy2

  • A previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Invitro Fertilization (IVF)
  • Smoking
  • Increasing age


These usually show up after a missed period:

  • Severe pain usually on one side of the lower abdomen
  • Brown discharge or vaginal bleeding
  • Feeling of faintness, dizziness or nausea


Once the doctor suspects ectopic pregnancy, this condition is confirmed by

  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound test


Because the embryo of an ectopic pregnancy cannot survive, it is removed surgically (Laparoscope) or by certain medicines to terminate the pregnancy. The feelings of loss, grief and despair are normal at this time.

Effects on the mother

If not treated immediately, it can cause abnormal bleeding in the mother, resulting in shock and may result in death to the mother.

It may increase the risk of another ectopic pregnancy, if you choose to have a baby again. But most women can go on to have another normal pregnancy.


1."Ectopic pregnancy--United States, 1990-1992. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1995;44:46-8" via Tenore JL., "Ectopic pregnancy", Am Fam Physician 2000;61:1080-8

2. "Regular Review: Ectopic pregnancy", J I Tay, J Moore, J J Walker BMJ 2000;320:916-919


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