What is an ectopic pregnancy?
They are also called “extra-uterine pregnancy,” a fairly common pregnancy complication. Just like the word “ectopic,” which means” out of place,” an ectopic pregnancy is one in which a zygote (a fertilized ovum/egg) implants itself outside the uterus (also called the womb) and begins to develop.
The condition can be dangerous and life-threatening if untreated or not detected on time.
Signs Of Ectopic Pregnancy At 6 Weeks
Sometimes an ectopic pregnancy may show signs of a normal pregnancy, so it may be hard to detect, but here are done things to look out for:
Lower abdominal pain: often, an ectopic pregnancy occurs on one side of the body so that you may experience pain in one part of your body.
Vaginal bleeding: another sign of ectopic pregnancy is a period(bleeding from the vaginal) that seems to be longer or lighter than your normal period or a period that seems to be heavier, darker, or more watery than your normal period.
Normal pregnancy symptoms: you may experience symptoms of a normal pregnancy, symptoms like a missed period, tender breasts, nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, or frequent urination.
Having said so, it is also important to know that you can have an ectopic pregnancy and not show any of the previously listed symptoms; instead, you may show another set of symptoms, although they are less common than those previously listed, they include;
Problems with your bladder or bowel movements: pain when urinating, pain when defecating, diarrhea, and a persistent feeling of fullness when you lie down that you do not think are related to eating ( this is particularly common in women who have already had a child).
Sometimes ectopic pregnancy shows no sign or symptom until the fallopian tube or a close organ ruptures. At this stage, you may have the following symptoms;
- Severe pain in the stomach.
- Vaginal bleeding.
- A feeling of lightheadedness can sometimes trigger or be followed by fainting.
- Pain in the Shoulder feels different and unlike any, you have experienced. This pain which occurs where the Shoulder and arm are joined, is caused by internal bleeding.
Note: some women tend to experience symptoms commonly associated with stomach flu (gastroenteritis) or miscarriage. In other cases, an ectopic pregnancy may be “asymptomatic,” which means that the affected woman does not show any symptoms at all.
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How Does An Ectopic Pregnancy Occur?
Pregnancy occurs when a sperm cell fuses with an ovum/egg to form a zygote in the Fallopian tube. The zygote then moves along the Fallopian tube and plants itself along the lining of the womb/uterus (the lining of the womb/uterus is also called the endometrium).
That is where it starts to develop and grow into a baby. An ectopic pregnancy may occur if a zygote ( a fertilized ovum/egg) fails to move into the uterus and instead starts to grow outside of the uterus.
This may result from leftover scars from a previous infection or a cesarean section. Abnormalities of the Fallopian tube’s shape because of one congenital disability or the other can also cause ectopic pregnancy.
As the zygote(which grows into a blastocyst, an embryo, and finally a fetus) grows bigger and occupies the Fallopian tube, it ruptures the Fallopian tube because it has no more space to grow.
Although ectopic pregnancies do occur in other places(like inside the abdomen or in the ovary) besides the Fallopian tube, it is not common, and 95% of the time, an ectopic pregnancy occurs in the Fallopian tube.
Factors or reasons that can cause ectopic pregnancy
A previous occurrence of ectopic pregnancy:
The risk of having an ectopic pregnancy is significantly increased if you have experienced one before.
If a tubal ligation fails or is reversed, the woman may experience ectopic pregnancies if she tries to get pregnant.
An unsuccessful fertility treatment:
Occasionally IVF ( In Vitro Fertilization) results in ectopic pregnancy, and this happens when the embryo fails to get into the uterus and goes into the Fallopian tube.
Often infertility results from tubal abnormalities; since tubal abnormalities may also cause ectopic pregnancy, it stands to reason that infertile women are doubly at risk of suffering from an ectopic pregnancy.
The older a woman gets, the higher the risk of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):
women who have a history of gonorrhea, Chlamydia, or any other disease that causes infection or inflammation of the pelvis have a higher risk of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy because such diseases sometimes damage the Fallopian tubes.
women who have had a cesarean section are at a higher risk of having an Ectopic pregnancy because a fertilized egg can implant itself on the residual scar tissues from the cesarean section in the uterus lining.
It is known as a cause of ectopic pregnancy and complications during pregnancy. This is because it makes the muscles in the Fallopian tube unable to contract, thereby hindering the movement of the fertilized eggs from the Fallopian tube to the uterus.
Contraceptives like IUD( copper contraceptive coil):
can also cause ectopic pregnancy because while it may effectively prevent pregnancy, in the unlikely event that you get pregnant, the probability Of an ectopic pregnancy is higher. Although using an IUD may be more effective in preventing ectopic pregnancy than ignoring contraception completely.
In-utero diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure:
research has proven that the exposure of babies to DES before birth can increase the risk of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy by 4 times. Therefore, DES was prescribed to expectant mothers in the 1940s-1970s as a preventive measure against pregnancy complications. The DES is a synthetic form of estrogen (female hormones that affect women’s reproductive and sexual health).
Note: all these factors may not be the only reason for experiencing ectopic, but they have been proven to increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
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Types Of Ectopic Pregnancy
There are different types of ectopic pregnancy, and it can be decided according to where the zygote(fertilized egg) implants itself.
Also called a Fallopian tube, pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself in the Fallopian tube and starts to grow; this accounts for about 95% of ectopic pregnancies.
The part of the Fallopian tube where ectopic pregnancies occur; can occur in the center of the Fallopian tube called the Ampulla (which accounts for about 80% of ectopic pregnancies).
Ectopic pregnancy may also occur at the top of the Fallopian tube, closer to the womb/uterus (this region is calm isthmic and accounts for 12% of ectopic pregnancies). Ectopic pregnancies can also occur in the fimbria (the end of the Fallopian tube), and it accounts for 5% of ectopic pregnancies.
Interstitial Ectopic Pregnancy
This kind of ectopic pregnancy occurs in the part of the Fallopian tube embedded into the uterus wall, proving to be very dangerous as it is hard to diagnose and, therefore, progresses further without detection until ruptures and damages are detected in the uterus wall and Fallopian tube.
Cervical Ectopic Pregnancy
The cervix is the passage between the uterus and the vagina. Cervical ectopic pregnancy is very rare and comes with a life-threatening risk of vaginal bleeding. This risk is because the cervix possesses a lot of blood vessels which can cause excessive/massive bleeding when the ectopic pregnancy detaches itself from the cervix.
Ovarian Ectopic Pregnancy
Occurs in the ovary; it is a dangerous form of ectopic pregnancy that is very difficult to diagnose until surgery when removing a part or all of the ovaries is required. However, it most times appears to be an ectopic tubal pregnancy.
Other types of ectopic pregnancies are; Ectopic pregnancy that grows on a cesarean scar and heterotopic pregnancy.
Although most women recover fully, An ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening if it is not diagnosed early or untreated. Sometimes when diagnosed early, an ectopic pregnancy may be monitored to see if it resolves by itself (by passing out of the cervix without medical intervention) or not, in which case surgery will be carried out (although this is usually the case).
An ectopic pregnancy can not be moved into the uterus to develop like a normal pregnancy and rarely ever survive or hold out until birth. After treatment, a period of 6 weeks to 3 months is required for healing.
Suppose a woman becomes emotionally distressed after experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, especially when she was intentionally trying to get pregnant. In that case, there is a wide range of available treatments that she can choose from.
If you think you have an ectopic pregnancy, seek counsel from your health care provider because the earlier it is diagnosed, the better and easier it is to choose a treatment option.