Ectopic Pregnancy, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy where the fertilized egg (the zygote) is implanted outside the uterus.

This occurs mostly when there is a blockage of the fallopian tube or uterus pipe.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs in 20 out of every 1000 pregnancies, with over 95% of the cases occurring in the fallopian tube.

That is why it is also called a tubal pregnancy.

How early do symptoms of ectopic pregnancy start?

Like a normal pregnancy, the symptoms begin as early as two weeks after fertilization. Early signs of pregnancy usually vary for different people.

The first sign of any form of pregnancy is usually a missed period, the other common signs that may follow it are:

  •  Frequent urination
  • Breast tenderness and swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness

How to detect ectopic pregnancy early

Early signs of ectopic pregnancy include vaginal bleeding, vomiting, severe abdominal pain and sometimes shoulder pain. These are the most common signs of ectopic pregnancy.

It is always advisable to visit a health centre any time you have any of these symptoms to avoid complications.

Does ectopic pregnancy test positive?

Yes, an ectopic pregnancy will test positive in the lab since it produces the pregnancy hormone HCG. An ectopic pregnancy shares similar symptoms to the early signs of a normal pregnancy.

What is the ectopic pregnancy bleeding colour?

The discharge or bleeding colour of an ectopic pregnancy is usually light pink or dark brown. This discharge usually occurs after ovulation mainly around the implantation time and also lasts for over three days.

Can you have an ectopic pregnancy without bleeding?

According to the victims of ectopic pregnancy, there has been a mixed feeling among them. Most of them complained of severe pain and bleeding during an ectopic pregnancy, while others complain of pains without bleeding.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies occur when there is a blockage of the fallopian tube or uterus passage because of:

  • Pelvic inflammatory diseases
  • Use of fertility drugs
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Using in vitro fertilization methods
  • Those with a history of ectopic pregnancy
  • Scars from previous pelvic surgery

 Ectopic pregnancy test

It is usually done in the hospital using the following procedure,

  • A urine test  to find out if you are pregnant
  • A blood test to find out if there is a change in the level of pregnancy hormones, also known as human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG).
  • An ultrasound scan to confirm if the pregnancy is ectopic or not.

Signs of ectopic pregnancy at 2 weeks

The first signs of ectopic pregnancy at two weeks is usually brown spotting or bleeding, which lasts for over three days.

The bleeding is followed by severe pain which mostly starts in the abdomen and right shoulder. The pain becomes worse with time until it becomes unbearable. Always seek medical advice if you notice any changes in your system.

Signs of ectopic pregnancy at 3 weeks

At this stage, the abdominal pain becomes more severe than it was in the second week. Vaginal discharge may be light. You can also feel shoulder pain, which you may think is normal without knowing that it is a sign of ectopic pregnancy.

 Ectopic pregnancy symptoms at 4 weeks

At four weeks, the signs, which were like that of normal pregnancy, becomes clearer and differentiated.

People with little knowledge of ectopic pregnancy can easily identify them with their symptoms. The pain and cramps in the abdominal region have become more dominant.

Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy at 6 weeks

ectopic pregnancy
how to detect ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy if not removed by 6 months usually leads to horrible body pain, bleeding and tube rupture. The victim at this stage knows that something is wrong with her system. There should be a quick intervention to avoid fallopian tube damage.

How to prevent ectopic pregnancy

The best way to prevent ectopic pregnancy is to avoid those things that may block the fallopian tube and the uterus.  You should try your best to avoid the causes so as this will minimise your chances of having an ectopic pregnancy. Also, always treat yourself any time you contract an infection to avoid complications.

How Is an Ectopic Pregnancy Treated?

Ectopic pregnancies can be treated either through the use of methotrexate drug or through surgery.

  • Methotrexate is a drug which enables the body to shrink the pregnancy tissue and also saves the fallopian tube from rupture if it has not damaged.
  • Surgery: Ectopic pregnancies can also be removed through surgery when they can no longer be corrected with drugs. Knowing how to detect an ectopic pregnancy early will help save you from surgery.

Successful pregnancy after ectopic surgery

Your chances of becoming pregnant after ectopic surgery depends on the following factors:

  • The reason for the first surgery. Correcting the cause of the initial surgery will also help to increase your pregnancy chances after ectopic surgery.
  • Your medical history. This will contribute to your successful pregnancy after ectopic surgery because if your tube has been damaged due to previous surgery, it will definitely reduce your chances.
  •  Age of the woman. Age plays an important role in becoming pregnant after ectopic surgery because the older you grow, the lesser the pregnancy hormones (HCG) which make ovulation possible.

     Bottom line

Ectopic pregnancy can happen to any woman, and its complications can be reduced if noticed. Always watch out for the early signs whenever you are pregnant.