What is Ectopic Pregnancy? When an egg or ova and a sperm join fertilization occurs. The fertilized egg moves from the fallopian tube where fertilization occurs down to the uterus where it attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg fails to attach to the lining of the uterus rather it attaches itself elsewhere. It can be in the fallopian tube, the ovary, or the cervix. Ectopic pregnancy can fully develop as its life threatening to the life of the female thus medical attention is necessary.
When the fertilized egg attaches itself to the fallopian tube it is termed a tube pregnancy, which is the most common type of this complication. It occurs when the egg gets stuck as it moves down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. This may be due to inflammation of the fallopian tube, abnormal development of the fertilized ovum, or hormonal imbalance.
Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy
- Light vaginal bleeding may proceed to heavy bleeding if medical treatment is not given.
- Pelvic pain.
- Rupture of the fallopian tube if the egg attaches to it.
- Fainting and lightheadedness.
- Shoulder pain.
- Fertility treatment e.g. vitro fertilization increases the risk.
- Tubal surgery to correct or repair a damaged fallopian tube.
- The choice of birth control method e.g. having one tube tied rises one’s risk of getting the complication if one falls pregnant after the procedure.
- History of a previous ectopic pregnancy.
- Sexually transmitted infections e.g. gonorrhea may make the tubes become inflamed thus increasing the chances of the complication.
- Smoking while pregnant.
Complications of Ectopic Pregnancy
Bursting of the fallopian tube if not treated thus leads to bleeding which is life-threatening.
- To decrease the risk of ectopic pregnancy one should use protective gear e.g. condoms when having sexual intercourse with people who one you do not know.
- Avoid smoking while pregnant.
- Pelvic examination.
- An ultrasound to confirm the location of the developing fetus.
- Blood test to check for anemia.
Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancy
- Use of medication such as methotrexate which stops the growth of the cell and dissolves any existing cells.
- Emergency surgery.
- Palliative care is where the affected female needs support to cope with the situation.
- Use of the laparoscopic procedure.