Pregnancy, Fertility and Childbirth

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

A Answers (8)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Typically after fertilization, the blastocyst (the egg-sperm union) implants in the endometrial lining of the uterine cavity. But in ectopic pregnancies, which occur in about 2 percent of pregnancies, the implantation happens somewhere in the Fallopian tube—near the ovary, in the middle, or where the tube inserts into the uterus.
  • AHealthwise answered

    An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches somewhere other than in the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube (tubal pregnancy). Because an ectopic pregnancy can cause life-threatening complications, the pregnancy must be ended with medicine or surgery.

    When a fertilized egg attaches to a fallopian tube, it can be dangerous because the pregnancy can break into blood vessels. If a tubal pregnancy is not detected and treated early, the blood vessels may burst. This can be a life-threatening situation and requires emergency surgery.

    Pelvic inflammatory disease or tubal surgery increases the risk of having an ectopic or tubal pregnancy by creating scar tissue that may block the fallopian tube.

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  • ASara Wood, DO, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    "Ectopic" means "out of place" -- and in an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg has implanted outside the uterus (the womb). Most ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube, which is why they are sometimes called "tubal pregnancies." But a fertilized egg can also settle in the abdomen, cervix, or ovary.

    An ectopic pregnancy won't result in a live birth. Only the uterus has the space and nurturing tissue needed for the egg to develop normally.
  • ABoston Women's Health Book Collective, Administration, answered

    In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, where it cannot develop normally. This can be a life-threatening condition requiring immediate treatment. Ectopic pregnancies occur in one in fifty to a hundred pregnancies. Most are caused by an infection or inflammation of the fallopian tube, scar tissue or adhesions from previous tubal or pelvic area surgeries, or a tubal abnormality. If you have had a previous ectopic pregnancy, pelvic surgery, or pelvic inflammatory disease, or if you conceived using assisted reproductive techniques, your risk may be higher. In addition, if your mother used DES while pregnant with you, your risk may be higher.

    If you have an ectopic pregnancy, you may have a positive pregnancy test and all the signs of early pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding, dizziness, weakness, and gastrointestinal discomfort are common early symptoms. As the pregnancy progresses, the pressure in the tube may cause stabbing pains, cramps, pain in your shoulder, or a dull ache that may vary in intensity, and come and go. It is critical to contact your provider if you have vaginal bleeding and/or sharp pain in the pelvic area, abdomen, and/or neck and shoulders. If an ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed early, the fallopian tube can rupture, causing severe blood loss and shock.

    If you have any of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, your health care provider will check your hormone levels every other day and do a vaginal ultrasound as early as possible (about 6 weeks). Ectopic pregnancy is occasionally misdiagnosed as an early miscarriage. This is why your provider may ask you to get a blood pregnancy test after a suspected miscarriage. The test can help confirm the presence or absence of fetal tissue in the fallopian tube.

    When doctors detect an ectopic pregnancy, they will remove the embryonic tissue and try to save the tube. Blood tests will be performed to check changes in your levels of HCG after any of these treatments in order to confirm that no ectopic tissue remains.

    The loss of an ectopic pregnancy may bring on feelings like those that follow miscarriage, including fear that such a pregnancy could happen again. If you have had internal bleeding or a traumatic emergency surgery, talk with your provider about how this may affect future conception and pregnancies, and how to minimize your future risks.

  • AKevin Windom, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered

    An ectopic pregnancy is any pregnancy that is occurring outside of the uterine cavity.  95% of ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tube.  This is why most people call it a tubal pregnancy.  There are rare occasions where an ectopic pregnancy can be on the ovary or in the abdominal cavity or the cervix. 

  • ADiana Blythe, MD, Pediatrics, answered on behalf of Pediatric Associates
    Most pregnancies are intrauterine, or inside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterine cavity. These pregnancies are not viable (capable of surviving) and pose great risk to the mother when they rupture. 
  • AStephen K. Montoya, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered on behalf of Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
    What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
    An ectopic pregnancy is one that stops outside the uterus proper, says Stephen Montoya, MD, an OB/GYN at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he describes the process of fertilization. 
  • ADeborah Raines, MSN, Nursing, answered on behalf of Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)

    An ectopic pregnancy is an abnormal pregnancy which implants outside of the uterus. The most common place for an ectopic pregnancy is in the fallopian tube, but it also can occur in the abdomen or pelvic.

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