What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?


An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches (implants) some place other than the uterus. In many cases of ectopic pregnancy, the egg will implant inside one of the fallopian tubes. This dangerous condition is often caused by damaged to the fallopian tubes.  The following factors will increase your risk for an ectopic pregnancy:

  • Smoking
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Endometriosis
  • Exposure to the chemical DES before birth

Your risks will also increase if you have surgery on your fallopian tubes or undergo fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are the same as a normal pregnancy in the beginning, however, the key symptoms to look for include pelvic or belly pain and vaginal bleeding. If you are pregnant or suspect that you might be pregnant and are experiencing belly or pelvic pain or vaginal bleeding, it is very important to visit your doctor immediately. An ectopic pregnancy cannot be saved and can be very dangerous to the mother. If it is not detected and treated early, it can cause significant damage to the fallopian tube and cause serious, even deadly bleeding to occur.

To diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, your doctor will most likely perform a pregnancy test as well as a pelvic examination. Ultrasound may also be used to detect an ectopic pregnancy. The goal of treatment is to protect the health of the mother and to protect the health of your fallopian tubes to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy in the future.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Carlos Alarcon, Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.