Pregnancy Problems

What is it?
How common is it?
What causes an it?
What are the the symptoms?
How is ity diagnosed?
How is an Ectopic Pregnancy treated?

Pregnancy Problems – Pregnancy problems and complaints

What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when implantation occurs outside the womb. Implantation can occur in the ovary, the abdomen, the cervix, at the join between the tube and the womb, but the most common place is in the fallopian tube. Pregnancy can even occur in both the womb and the tube at the same time (heterotopic pregnancy), but this is very rare.

How common is it?

The percentage of pregnancies which are ectopic is between 0.25 and 1%

What causes an it?

An ectopic pregnancy is usually caused by conditions which slows down or obstructs the movement of the egg down the fallopian tube into the uterus. Any condition which may have damaged the fallopian tubes increases the risk of a tubal pregnancy. The possible causes of ectopic pregnancies include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease – an infection of the female reproductive organs which can cause scarring of the organs.
  • A history of Endometriosis – a disease where tissue usually found in the uterus develops in other areas of the body.
  • Previous tubal surgery
  • Multiple induced abortions
  • Pelvic adhesions – bands of scar tissue that constrict the tube

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms and signs of ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Sharp pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Signs of early pregnancy
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Tender abdomen
  • Diziness or fainting and generally not feeling well

Always consult your physician for a diagnosis if you experience any of the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy.

How is it diagnosed?

The diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy can be difficult. Your doctor may perform some tests to help confirm s suspected tubal pregnancy. These tests include:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Culdocentesis – determines if there is blood in the space behind the uterus
  • Laparoscopy – a telescope is inserted through a small incision in the woman’s abdomen. This allows the doctor to see the fallopian tubes and other organs. This takes place in an operating room with anesthesia.

How is it treated?

If an ectopic pregnancy is strongly suspected, then a gynaecologist will perform a laparoscopy to confirm it. During a laparoscopy, the fallopian tube is often removed at the same time. Sometimes open surgery is required to remove the pregnancy.

Methotrexate can be used as a chemical treatment. It is used in non-urgent cases to dissolve the pregnancy without harming the tubes and other organs. Repeat hCG levels will be taken to ensure that the pregnancy is dissolving and that further treatment is not needed.

The outlook for future pregnancies depends on whether the fallopian tube appeared normal or not. Generally 1 in 5 women who experienced an ectopic pregnancy will experience another ectopic pregnancy.

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