Ectopic Pregnancy

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Ectopic Pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants outside of the womb, most commonly in the fallopian tube but it can be elsewhere for example in the ovary or cervix.  Only about 2 per cent of pregnancies are ectopic.  Unfortunately, it is not possible for an ectopic pregnancy to continue normally to full term, and early diagnosis and urgent care is required as soon as an ectopic pregnancy becomes apparent either through early scan or symptoms experienced by the mother. 

Early Signs and Symptoms

  • Light spotting and bleeding.  This may be mistaken for your period but can be an early sign of an ectopic pregnancy.  If it possible you may be pregnant do a test to be sure and consult your physician.
  • Sharp cramping in the lower abdomen, usually on the one side, which may come and go or may increase.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen may worsen on going to the toilet.

Advanced Signs and Symptoms

Left undiagnosed and untreated an ectopic pregnancy the fallopian tube may rupture.  If this happens you may experience a combination of:

  • Sharp and severe abdominal pain
  • Internal pressure on the rectum
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Increased vaginal bleeding
  • Sharp shoulder pain in the tip of the shoulder (due to internal bleeding)
  • Nausea and vomiting

It is very important that you call your doctor or the hospital right away if you experience any of the symptoms above.  It will not unfortunately be possible to save the pregnancy but with prompt medical intervention and treatment which may include surgery, the chances of preserving the fallopian tube for future fertility are greatly increased.

Slight and occasional cramping in your lower abdomen in early pregnancy is not unusual as the ligaments and other bodily changes accompanying pregnancy take place and is not necessarily a sign of ectopic pregnancy but is always best to be sure so if you are at all concerned contact your physician at once.

Symptoms of a rupture

In a few cases, an ectopic pregnancy can grow large enough to split open the fallopian tube. This is known as a rupture.

Ruptures are very serious and surgery to repair the fallopian tube needs to be carried out as soon as possible.

Signs of a rupture include a combination of:

  • a sharp, sudden and intense pain in your tummy
  • feeling very dizzy or fainting
  • feeling sick
  • looking very pale

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