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Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms...

An ectopic pregnancy, or eccyesis, is a pregnancy resulting from gestation elsewhere than in the uterus.

This means the embryo is implanted outside the uterine cavity.
Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms

Ectopic pregnancy start occurring when the egg is fertilized outside the uterus and the baby starts developing outside the womb.

Some women who have an ectopic pregnancy do not have any symptoms.

They may not find out it is ectopic until an early scan shows the problem or a woman's fallopian tube has ruptured.

If there are symptoms, they usually appear between weeks 5 and 14 of the pregnancy.

These are not normal kinds of pregnancies and should not be allowed to proceed further as they may cause permanent damage.

The reason why an ectopic pregnancy takes place is due to a condition in which the passage of the fertilized egg through the fallopian tube is blocked or slowed down.

This blockage may be physical and can occur due to some previous infections, surgery in the fallopian tube, and inflammation of the area or earlier ectopic pregnancy.

If not treated properly, an ectopic pregnancy can become a potential medical emergency and can lead to death.

Signs And Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy symptoms are abdominal and are characterized by pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding.

These are often confused with the pregnancy symptoms of miscarriage or pelvic inflammatory diseases.

The best thing is to approach your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms as a delay in action might cause a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which is a serious medical condition.

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms #1: One-sided Abdominal Pain

You may experience pain, typically on one side of your abdomen (tummy), which can be persistent and severe.

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms #2: Vaginal Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding is a different type of bleeding from your regular period. It often starts and stops, and can be bright or dark red in colour.

Some women mistake this bleeding for a regular period and do not realise they are pregnant.

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms #3: Shoulder Tip Pain

Shoulder tip pain is felt where your shoulder ends and your arm begins.

It's not known exactly why shoulder tip pain occurs, but it usually happens when you're lying down and is a sign that the ectopic pregnancy is causing internal bleeding.

The bleeding is thought to irritate the phrenic nerve, which is found in your diaphragm (the muscle used during breathing that separates your chest cavity from your abdomen).

Irritation of the phrenic nerve causes referred pain (pain that is felt elsewhere) in the shoulder blade.

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms #4: Bowel Pain

You may experience pain when passing urine or stools.

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms #5: Diarrhoea and Vomiting

An ectopic pregnancy can cause similar symptoms to a gastrointestinal disease and is often associated with diarrhoea and vomiting.

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms #6: Ruptured Ectopic Pregnancy

Common early symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include light-headedness, dizziness, passing-out, sweating, and pale complexion, extreme and unbearable pain in the pelvic area and/or stomach.

You must go to your doctor if you experience any of these and undergo certain examinations which the doctor will perform on you.

The doctor generally goes for a pelvic exam and ultrasound to determine enlargement of the uterus and the area affected by this kind of pregnancy.

Blood hormone levels are also checked to see the changes.

If you are having any ectopic pregnancy symptom, it should be treated as an emergency as this type of pregnancy may rupture anytime and damage the fallopian tube permanently.

Such pregnancies if diagnosed at early stages can be treated accordingly and the pregnancy can be terminated safely without damaging the tube.

However, if it ruptures, surgery is the only option to save your life.

With the advancement in medical science and technology, this kind of pregnancy can be terminated safely with a small surgery today and you can still hope to conceive and deliver a healthy child next time.

Earlier, all of the fallopian tube used to be terminated and there was no chance for having a baby in the womb.

Thanks to the medical advancements today, women who had such type of pregnancy once can dream to have a healthy pregnancy in the near future.

You should be vigilant enough not to take signs of pregnancy lightly and start getting pre-natal care immediately.

This way, you can recognize and tell your doctor about symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, if any, at the earlier stages and get the condition treated properly without harming yourself and your reproductive system.

When to Seek Medical Advice

You should always contact your GP if...
  • you notice a change to your normal pattern of menstruation
  • you have unusual vaginal bleeding
  • you have persistent abdominal pain.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Treatment

The most serious symptom of an ectopic pregnancy is known as "collapse".

This occurs when an ectopic pregnancy has split open the fallopian tubes (tubal rupture) and is causing dangerous internal bleeding.

People who have experienced collapse describe feeling dizzy and faint.

You may also...

  • experience a sharp, sudden, intense abdominal pain
  • feel sick
  • have an increased heart rate
  • look pale
  • have diarrhoea.

If your fallopian tubes rupture, you will need emergency surgery to prevent blood loss. Dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

In rare cases, a ruptured fallopian tube can be fatal. However, this is very uncommon and in most cases, the fallopian tube can be successfully repaired or removed.

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