Early detection can make Ectopic pregnancy less complicated

Ovarian ectopic pregnancy

There is no prevention for ectopic pregnancies. If a pregnancy is ectopic, typically, it cannot result in the birth of a healthy offspring and has to be terminated to avoid developing life-threatening complications.

Ectopic or extra uterine pregnancy, a pregnancy that takes place outside of the womb, is fairly uncommon as only 1-2% of pregnancies are ectopic (meaning ‘out of place’). But such pregnancy is often something that mothers-to-be are scared of, because ectopic pregnancies cannot progress normally and almost never survive.

Complications of ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy can be fatal to a woman’s health. It is amongst the leading causes of first trimester pregnancy-related deaths.

In most ectopic pregnancies, the fertilized egg attaches early to the lining of a fallopian tube, which can cause the tube to stretch and rupture, leading to heavy internal hemorrhage, severe pain, shock, and even death. In rare cases, ectopic pregnancy takes place in the ovary, cervix, or abdominal cavity.

Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy

Awareness of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy can aid in its early detection. Symptoms usually develop within 4-10 weeks of pregnancy. However, not all ectopic pregnancies carry every symptom. The symptoms are:

1) Pelvic pain and sharp abdominal cramps

2) Absence of regular menstrual periods (amenorrhea)

3) Light vaginal bleeding

4) Abdominal tenderness and distension

5) Dizziness, fainting or syncope

6) Breast tenderness

7) Shoulder pain

8) Rectal pain

9) Nausea and painful vomiting

10) Diarrhoea

A simple home pregnancy test can determine whether a pregnancy has been established. A consequent visit to a medical professional can confirm or rule out an ectopic pregnancy.

Diagnosing ectopic pregnancy

Early detection and immediate treatment can help prevent complications related to an ectopic pregnancy. In addition to noting the symptoms, medical practitioners use the following methods to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy:

1) Urine test to confirm pregnancy

2) Pelvic exam to detect painful cervical motion, abdominal tenderness, adnexal mass, and/or uterine enlargement

3) Ultrasound (transvaginal or abdominal) to verify the location of the pregnancy

4) Blood tests to detect the rising levels of the pregnancy hormone beta-hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin)

Treating ectopic pregnancy

Medical practitioners employ the following approaches to deal with an ectopic pregnancy:

1. Expectant Management: A closely monitored, wait-and-watch approach is sometimes adopted since some ectopic pregnancies (though not all) resolve on their own.

2. Medical Management: In thecase of a diagnosis in the early stages, an intramuscular injection of the medicine methotrexate can stopthe cells from multiplying and cause them to be absorbed by the body.

3. Surgical Management: For ectopic pregnancies that are complex and advanced (adnexal mass ≥35 mm) or unresponsive to methotrexate, surgical intervention becomes necessary, wherein, salpingotomy or salpingectomy (removal of the fallopian tube, in part or whole) may be done. Laparoscopy is aminimally invasive, keyholesurgical option to detect and get rid of an ectopic pregnancy. In thecase of rupture and massive internal bleeding, however, laparotomy (major surgery) is required. Bleeding, infection, and damage to surrounding organs are some of the common complications of such surgeries.

It is also important who are more susceptible to develop ectopic pregnancy. Besides women who’ve previously experienced it, those with an intrauterine device, an unsuccessful tubal ligation, a pelvic inflammatory disease, and/or endometriosis are at a higher risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy. So are women who smoke, take fertility drugs, or are undergoing in-vitro fertilization.

The best-case scenario is detecting the ectopic pregnancy early and immediately getting it the medical attention it deserves. Once an ectopic pregnancy has been successfully treated, it is possible for the subsequent pregnancy to be normal. Nevertheless, any pregnancy post an ectopic pregnancy ought to be carefully monitored, especially in the early stages, by a medical professional.


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