July 28, 2022

Glossary: Ectopic Pregnancy

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Image Source: Mayo Clinic 

What is an Ectopic pregnancy?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,  an ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition that may cause internal bleeding due to the possibility of a fallopian tube rupturing.

Signs, Symptoms, and Risks

Early Symptoms

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Cramping on one side of the pelvis
  • The ACOG recommends speaking with an OB/GYN if you experience abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain. 

Symptoms of a fallopian tube rupture

  • Sudden and severe abdomen or pelvis pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting
  • The ACOG recommends going to the emergency room if you experience any of these symptoms. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

Ectopic pregnancies are typically diagnosed with a blood hCG test, pelvic exam, and ultrasound. If caught early on, a healthcare provider may administer methotrexate through an injection. Methotrexate ends a pregnancy by stopping cell growth and dissolving existing cells. An OB/GYN may perform surgery for pregnant people with high hCG levels or if a fallopian tube rupture occurs. The surgery may result in the complete removal of the fallopian tube depending on the damage caused by the rupture. 

It’s Fetch is a community that provides a safe space for members to discuss health and wellness topics. We provide access to archived health related content, note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content shared, regardless of date should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. 

-Written by Sabrina Park MPH

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  1. […] or use an IUD (CDC). If left untreated, PID may cause several complications, including ectopic pregnancy, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and tubo-ovarian abscess (Mayo […]

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