Ectopic pregnancy: What Is It, Symptoms & Treatment

An ectopic pregnancy is when the embryo implants and develops outside the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, abdominal cavity, or cervix.

Intense abdominal pain as well as blood loss through the vagina, especially in the first trimester, can signal an ectopic pregnancy, and therefore it's important to visit a gynecologist so that a diagnosis can be made.

It's important to know the exact location of the embryo to determine the best treatment course, because if it's in the abdominal cavity the pregnancy can progress, even though it's a very rare and delicate situation.

Ectopic pregnancy: What Is It, Symptoms & Treatment

Main symptoms

The main symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy depend on whether the fallopian tubes ruptured or not. 

A ruptured ectopic pregnancy happens when the embryo develops in the tubes and is big enough to rupture them. When this happens, the expectant mother can have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Intense abdominal pain;
  • Irregular vaginal blood loss, especially between week 5 and week 14;
  • Feeling of weight on the vagina;
  • Intense pain when touching the womb area;
  • Swollen abdomen;
  • Beta HCG test usually negative.

In the case of an ectopic pregnancy without rupture, the symptoms usually are:

  • Light abdominal pain or discomfort;
  • Vaginal bleeding;
  • Strong pain when touching the womb area;
  • Pain during sexual intercourse or during a pelvic exam;
  • Beta HCG test usually positive.

If you suspect you might have an ectopic pregnancy you should go to the hospital to do an ultrasound, which is an exam that can confirm if the embryo is developing outside the uterus.

Due to the development of the baby, and it's growing size, ectopic pregnancies are almost always discovered in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

How is treatment done

Treatment for ectopic pregnancy must be conducted by an obstetrician, since it depends on the exact location of the embryo, but normally it is not possible to continue with the pregnancy. I

t can be done with the use of medication to promote abortion or surgical procedure to remove the embryo and reconstruct the uterine tube. When the ectopic pregnancy is discovered before eight weeks of pregnancy, the embryo is very small and the doctor can prescribe a medication, called methotrexate. to induce abortion. When pregnancy is more advanced, a surgical procedure to remove the embryo is usually necessary. 

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