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Whether you are reading this article because you personally relate to the topic of an ectopic pregnancy or you are learning for a loved one, experiencing an ectopic pregnancy can be a very difficult and lonely experience. Whether you initially wanted to be pregnant or not – whether you knew you were pregnant or not.

We are discussing this topic because it can be life threatening to women if left untreated. At Mid Cities Women’s Clinic we want women to understand their bodies and to know their options if they find out they are pregnant.

Here are several questions we get asked regarding ectopic pregnancies.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

The word ectopic means “out of place” so an ectopic pregnancy means the pregnancy is not in the correct placement, and therefore will end in a pregnancy loss. An ectopic pregnancy is caused by conditions that slow down or block the movement of the egg down the fallopian tube and into the uterus, making the fertilized egg implant anywhere besides the uterus (as shown in the picture below). This type of ectopic pregnancy is called a tubal pregnancy. Sometimes, an ectopic pregnancy occurs in other areas of the body, such as the ovary, abdominal cavity or the lower part of the uterus (cervix), which connects to the vagina.

How often does an ectopic pregnancy occur?

It is estimated that about one in 50 pregnancies (2 percent) in the United States is ectopic. While it may seem rare, if you or a loved one thinks you may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, this is a medical emergency and it is very important to seek medical attention immediately.

What are the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy will result in a positive pregnancy test. Early symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are often similar to normal pregnancy symptoms, including a missed period, breast tenderness and nausea.

Symptoms to watch out for:

  • Severe pain centered on one side of the abdomen or pelvis.
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or blackouts.
  • Passage of tissue from the vagina.
  • Bleeding from the vagina may or may not be present.

If the fallopian tube ruptures, the pain and bleeding could be severe enough to cause additional symptoms. These can include:

  • Fainting
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Shoulder pain.
  • Rectal pressure.

When a tube bursts, you may feel sharp lower abdominal pain. Again, if you or a loved one thinks you may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, this is a medical emergency and it is very important to seek medical attention immediately. If you do not have an obstetrician-gynecologist (a doctor specializing in female problems and pregnancy), then go immediately to the closest hospital Emergency Room!

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of answers to questions about ectopic pregnancies, we hope this is a helpful starting place. Stay tuned for next month’s blog as we continue our discussion on ectopic pregnancy. At Mid Cities Women’s Clinic, you have a safe, judgment-free medical environment to get all the information and services you need to make an informed choice. If you’re not sure about your next step, click here to request your appointment now.  We are here to help.