Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment

A fertilized egg which has implanted outside of the uterus is known as an ectopic pregnancy. There is no way to transplant an ectopic pregnancy into the uterus, so it will be necessary to terminate the pregnancy once this is discovered. There are some risk factors which increase the chances of experiencing this, but an ectopic pregnancy can happen to anyone. It typically occurs in around 1 in 50 pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies can be dangerous, so it is important to note the early signs and get medical assistance for proper ectopic pregnancy treatment as soon as this is discovered.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy can give similar symptoms to period pains or a miscarriage which include slight bleeding or cramping. Other potential symptoms include vaginal bleeding which is watery, lighter or brighter than your normal period and mild to severe pain on one side of the pelvis or lower abdomen. These symptoms may come and go or not appear until the later stages of the ectopic pregnancy.

If the embryo is starting to stretch the fallopian tubes in later stages of pregnancy, it can result in shock or collapse from internal bleeding, pain when making a bowel movement, diarrhea, sweating, feeling faint or dizzy or shoulder tip pain if the bleeding irritate other internal organs. Pain can get worse if you lie down.

How Is an Ectopic Pregnancy Diagnosed?

It can be difficult to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy because many symptoms will coincide with a normal pregnancy. Your doctor will start by checking for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels in the bloodstream to see if they are high enough to indicate pregnancy. If they are not high enough to indicate a normal pregnancy, this test may be repeated to determine your risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

During an ultrasound, your uterus and tubes can be examined to determine if an embryo is in the fallopian tube. This will help to definitively diagnose an ectopic pregnancy. In many cases, the pregnancy is too small for the sonographer to find, but they can see if the fallopian tubes are swollen or producing blood clots from the remaining tissue. If you are showing positive results on pregnancy tests, but there is no sign of an embryo in the uterus, it could be a sign that there is an ectopic pregnancy or you have already miscarried. Additional testing will be performed to determine a final diagnosis before the pregnancy becomes too advanced and starts to pose more danger.

Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment

1. Medicine

Methotrexate can be used to terminate an ectopic pregnancy to help prevent surgery. This medication can cause side effects including bleeding for a few weeks after it is taken. You will also need to undergo additional testing to ensure the pregnancy tissue is being reabsorbed into your body properly. You may need additional shots of methotrexate for this to be effective. The treatment will be considered completed when there is no heart activity from the embryo and your pregnancy hormone levels return to a low level.

2. Surgery

If the ectopic pregnancy is advanced, it will need to be surgically removed from the fallopian tube in a procedure known as a salpingectomy. This should be done quickly as a rupture of the tubes becomes increasingly likely as the pregnancy develops and removing the tube will reduce your risk of experiencing another ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy can be removed while preserving the tube if the fallopian tube does not rupture or becomes damaged during the pregnancy. If your other fallopian tube is not healthy or you only have one, this may be the preferred option. Doctors may also opt to perform a keyhole surgery because it has a shorter recovery time, you will spend less time in the hospital,experience less blood loss and require less pain relief. Around 4-8 percent of women who experience an ectopic pregnancy can have their tubes saved. If the tube has ruptured, you will need emergency abdominal surgery, so the blood loss can be corrected quickly.

3. Expectant Management

In some cases, the ectopic pregnancy will naturally miscarry if the hormone levels are low and there is no evidence of an egg sack. Around a third of women who experience a natural miscarriage may still need surgical treatment or doses of methotrexate. Your doctor will perform an examination and determine the most appropriate support and treatment on a case by case basis.

Important Notes:

  • You cannot prevent ectopic pregnancy, but some risk factors can be reduced. Lowering your number of sexual partners or using protection to prevent pelvic inflammatory disease and sexually transmitted infections can be helpful.
  • If you have experienced an ectopic pregnancy before, talk to your doctor before you try to conceive, so your doctor can monitor your condition. Starting blood tests and ultrasounds earlier can help to detect another ectopic pregnancy or provide reassurance that everything is developing as it should be.

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