What Is Ectopic Pregnancy?

This woman is wondering what an ectopic pregnancy is

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg is implanted outside of the uterus. It’s usually located within the fallopian tube instead, which cannot stretch like a uterus to hold the growing embryo/fetus.

Ectopic pregnancies are dangerous and can be life-threatening to the mother, so it’s important to consult your doctor to see if you’re at risk.

How Do I Know if I’m at Risk Of an Ectopic Pregnancy?

If you are pregnant, an ultrasound will confirm the health and status of your pregnancy. 

The earlier you can schedule an ultrasound, the better since it will also reveal if you have any complications, like a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

However, there are other potential risk factors to consider prior to an ultrasound that may indicate if you have an increased risk or not of ectopic pregnancy: 

  • A previous ectopic pregnancy
  • A history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is an infection that can cause scar tissue to form in your reproductive organs
  • Surgery on your fallopian tubes
  • A history of infertility
  • Treatment for infertility with in vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Endometriosis
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  • An intrauterine device (IUD), a form of birth control, in place at the time of conception
  • A history of smoking

What Are the Symptoms or Early Signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Although some women never show any symptoms, signs of an ectopic pregnancy usually occur between 4-12 weeks gestation. 

The key signs of ectopic pregnancy in the first trimester are:

  • Pelvic or pain in your abdomen
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Shoulder pain. This is caused by blood leaking into the fallopian tube and irritating nerves in your diaphragm. 

How Common Are Ectopic Pregnancies?

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, ectopic pregnancies occur in about 1 out of every 50 pregnancies (20 out of 1,000).

Even if you do not match any of the risk factors above that increase your risk of an ectopic pregnancy, it is best to confirm as soon as possible so you can reduce your risk of complications.

Contact us to schedule a free and confidential ultrasound!