When the ovary releases an egg into the Fallopian tube, it is left there for a while before being ejected during menstruation. If it comes in contact with a sperm before getting ejected, it gets fertilized and then moves towards the uterus. It attaches to the lining of the uterine wall and develops into a fetus.
Sometimes, the fertilized egg does not move down into the uterus. It attaches to the walls of the Fallopian tube or in other parts of the abdomen. This is called an ectopic pregnancy. In most cases, this pregnancy will have to be emergently terminated. One of the reasons that treatment is needed immediately is because the pregnancy could rupture the Fallopian tube.
Signs of an ectopic pregnancy
Usually when an ectopic pregnancy happens, you might not even realize it. The first symptoms include:-
• Light bleeding/ Spotting
• Pelvic pain
• Dizziness/ Nausea
• Abdominal cramps
• Pain on shoulder or neck
• Pain in rectum
Causes of ectopic pregnancy
One of the main causes of an ectopic pregnancy is a damaged Fallopian tube. When this happens, the fertilized eggs are unable to make their way to the uterus and instinctively try to attach to the nearest surface which could be anywhere between the Fallopian tube and the uterus.
Other reasons for an ectopic pregnancy include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), STDs, scarring from pelvic surgeries, unsuccessful tubal ligation or tubal ligation reversal. If you have a history of ectopic pregnancy, the chances of having another one increase. The use of fertility drugs and infertility treatments can increase the risk. Getting pregnant while having an intrauterine device (IUD) in place can cause an ectopic pregnancy.
Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy
If your doctor suspects an ectopic pregnancy, she will do a physical examination first by examining the pelvic area. An ultrasound will be taken to confirm an ectopic pregnancy and its location. Depending on where exactly the fetus is implanted the doctor will advice you on what to do next.
Can a baby survive an ectopic pregnancy?
Unfortunately, in an ectopic pregnancy, the lining of the area on which the fetus has attached typically ruptures after about 6 to 16 weeks. It is safer to terminate the pregnancy before there is a rupture because that could cause severe internal bleeding which can be life-threatening. The fetus is not viable that early in the pregnancy to be removed safely.
How is it terminated?
If your pregnancy hasn’t progressed too far and there has been no rupture or bleeding, the doctor may terminate the pregnancy with medication. If not, a laparoscopic surgery or laparotomic surgery will be advised to terminate the ectopic pregnancy. Usually the lining on which the fetus has attached will also have to be removed. If the Fallopian tube is damaged, that may have to be removed as well.
Can you have a baby after removing the fallopian tube?
Our reproductive system consists of two Fallopian tubes, so even if one of them were damaged and had to be removed, you still have the other and the chances of having a healthy baby are good. But it is a good idea to be monitored and be under a good gynecologist throughout the pregnancy.