How to Recognize and Treat an Ectopic Pregnancy



Watch for early pregnancy symptoms.,
Take abdominal or pelvic pain seriously.,
Be aware of back pain.,
Note vaginal bleeding.,
Look for signs of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.,
Factor in your pregnancy history.,
Consider your reproductive health.,
Know that infertility treatment may increase your risk.,
Understand that an IUD increases your risk.,
Factor in your age.,
Seek medical attention immediately.,
Confirm the pregnancy.,
Have a pelvic exam.,
Ask for an ultrasound.,
Get emergency treatment for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.,
Understand that the pregnancy is not viable.

Some women who experience ruptured ectopic pregnancies do not realize they are pregnant at all until they are rushed to a doctor or an emergency room for urgent life-saving treatment. It’s therefore critical to know and look for the earliest signs of pregnancy, including:

a missed menstrual period
breast tenderness
nausea and vomiting (“morning sickness”);
, If you have pain in your lower abdomen or pelvic area or cramping on one side of your pelvis, you may have an ectopic pregnancy. If this pain persists, worsens, or occurs alongside any other symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately.

, Back pain can occur for a variety of reasons, but if you experience back pain, especially lower back pain, in conjunction with other symptoms, see a doctor.

, Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a common symptom of ectopic pregnancy, but unfortunately, it’s also one of the most confusing: if you weren’t aware of your pregnancy, you may think the bleeding is your menstrual period, and if you did know you were pregnant, you may think you are having an early miscarriage.

, When an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, your symptoms may get more severe. At this point, the condition is potentially fatal, so watch carefully for:

dizziness and fainting
a sensation of pain or pressure in your rectum
low blood pressure
additional pain in the shoulder area
sudden, severe abdominal or pelvic pain

, Some women will never know what caused their ectopic pregnancies, but there are certain factors that seem to increase your risk. The first of these is a history of ectopic pregnancy: if you’ve had one before, you are at an increased risk of having another.

, Sexually-transmitted infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and congenital problems with your fallopian tubes all increase your risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Any surgeries performed on your reproductive organs, including failed tubal ligations, reversed tubal ligations, and any other pelvic surgeries elevate your risk.

, If you’ve used fertility drugs or had in vitro fertilization, you have an elevated risk of ectopic pregnancy.

, Women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) to prevent pregnancy are at an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy if the birth control method fails and they become pregnant.

, Women over 35 seem more likely to have ectopic pregnancies.

, If you suspect an ectopic pregnancy, whether or not you’ve already had a positive pregnancy test, get to a doctor or emergency room as soon as possible.

, If you haven’t already had a pregnancy test, your doctor will perform one. A pregnancy test will come back positive whether the egg has implanted in the uterus or in another place.

, If you are indeed pregnant, your doctor will probably start with a standard pelvic exam. He or she will check for any particular areas of pain or tenderness and feel for any palpable masses. At the same time, he or she will check to see if there are any other visible causes of your symptoms.

, If your doctor suspects an ectopic pregnancy, you should have a vaginal ultrasound immediately. Your doctor will insert a small device into your vagina to perform the ultrasound and look for evidence of an ectopic pregnancy.

Occasionally, it may be too early for an ectopic pregnancy to show on an ultrasound. If this is the case, and if your symptoms are mild or questionable, your doctor may monitor you and repeat the ultrasound at a later date. At a month past conception, though, the pregnancy – whether normal or ectopic – should be visible on an ultrasound.

, If you are bleeding heavily, show symptoms of shock, or exhibit other signs of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, your doctor will skip the preliminary tests and diagnose and treat you surgically.

, The only treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is removal of the developing cells. This will be done surgically.

In some cases, your fallopian tube may have to be removed as well. If this happens, know that many women successfully get pregnant again with only one fallopian tube.

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