If you're pregnant or trying to conceive, learning about what mothers go through is a good idea. Dreaming up cute nurseries, baby names, and awesome twinning outfits with your little one sure is fun. But part of preparing for pregnancy, childbirth, and hopefully soon, parenthood, is also being aware of possible complications and negative outcomes. One of these complications is an ectopic pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy is something you may have already heard of. It is a serious pregnancy complication and is something you need to consult your doctor about right away. Allow us to explain what it is in detail below.
What is an ectopic pregnancy?
Each month, a woman releases an egg in the fallopian tube. When you are pregnant, it's this egg that becomes fertilized with the sperm and eventually ends up in the uterus.
However, in an ectopic pregnancy (also called tubal pregnancy), this does not happen. In this case, the pregnancy occurs outside the womb. It can end up in the following areas:
- inside one of the fallopian tubes
- the ovary
- outside the uterus
- the intestine
Unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy cannot progress and develop due to its location. When an egg is fertilized and grows outside the uterus, it can be very dangerous. It's best to find out about it at the earliest possible time.
If you don't seek immediate medical attention, it can rupture and put you in grave danger.
Causes of ectopic pregnancy
If you're a woman of child-bearing age, you can have an ectopic pregnancy. However, you do have a higher risk of getting it if you:
- had a previous ectopic pregnancy
- have a sexually transmitted disease
- have undergone fertility treatments
- had tubal surgery
- are using a specific type of contraceptive
For the last reason, if you get pregnant even with an intrauterine device (IUD) in place, there's a high likelihood that the pregnancy is ectopic. The same can be said if you get pregnant after tubal ligation.
There are several symptoms of this condition, one of which is vaginal bleeding. Aside from that. you can have pain in the abdominal or pelvic areas. Blood leaking from the fallopian tube may also cause shoulder pain.
Don't be surprised if you also feel lightheaded. In more severe cases, you may even pass out. Some women also go into shock due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
Confirming if you have one
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, please consult your gynaecologist right away. Your doctor will order a scan to verify the location of the pregnancy.
It's also possible to get a blood test. These two procedures may be repeated before confirming the diagnosis.
Read the FAQs about pregnancy and childbirth to learn about ectopic pregnancy and other pregnancy concerns you may have.
How to prevent it
Unfortunately, there's no specific way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy. But there are some things you can do to prevent scarring your fallopian tube, which may lead to this condition. Here they are:
- Prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by using a condom during intercourse.
- Do not smoke.
- Treat STDs right away.
There are other factors that heighten the risk of ectopic pregnancy but are beyond your control. These include a previous ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and endometriosis. It's best to have regular health checks with your doctor if you have any of these.
Read about the other proactive things you can do here.
Speaking of regular health checks, one of the scans you need to do right away to find out if what you have is an ectopic pregnancy is a dating and viability scan. This is done through an ultrasound machine.
Interested in the other must-do scans during pregnancy? Read this article.
Consult your doctor regularly
Aside from your partner and your family, your ally throughout your pregnancy is your gynaecologist. Make sure that you'll be able to convey all your concerns about pregnancy and childbirth to your chosen gynaecologist. She's responsible for your health as well as your little one's well-being while inside the womb.
Don't have a doctor yet? We've got you covered. Here's a rundown of the best of the best in Singapore.
Ectopic pregnancy is a condition wherein the pregnancy occurs outside the womb. This may be caused by several factors such as smoking, specific types of contraception, undergoing fertility treatments, and more.
When you have this condition, the egg is not capable of growing into a fetus and it is a life-threatening situation. It's best to seek medical attention right away.
Original Publisher: theAsianparent