Ectopic Pregnancy - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

In a normal pregnancy, the sperm fertilizes with the ovum and imbeds itself in the uterus. After which, the uterus keeps expanding as the fetus grows. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg embeds outside the uterus. It usually occurs in the fallopian tubes, the pregnancy is known as tubal pregnancy. However, it can also occur in the other parts like the abdominal cavity, the cervix-a connection between vagina and uterus, or ovary. Ectopic pregnancy can be a life-threatening condition for the woman. Therefore, it needs to be aborted.


Anatomy of the female internal reproductive organs


The female reproductive organs constitute the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and vagina.

The ovaries are responsible for producing an egg (ovum) every month and the uterus is responsible for bearing the fetus throughout the pregnancy. The fallopian tubes, also known as oviducts, connect the uterus with the ovaries giving a passage for the egg to come to the uterus. The uterus is connected to the vagina or birth canal-a muscular canal that is responsible for the reception of the penis during sexual intercourse and the provision of a passageway for the baby during childbirth. The vagina connects the uterus to the external reproductive organs.


Symptoms


At the initial stages, one may not be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. But when it progresses it may show up as normal pregnancy like nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, and a missed period. Upon having the test, the pregnancy test will come out to be positive. But the fetus can not continue to grow due to its abnormal placement. As the fetus continues to grow, it may show the following symptoms. 


The initial symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain. If bleeding occurs from the fallopian tubes, it may cause shoulder pain or an urge to have a bowel movement. The sign and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy vary according to the place where it has occurred. As the fetus continues to grow in an abnormal position like in the fallopian tubes, it can cause it to rupture, leading to a life-threatening condition accompanied by bleeding. Along with that, it causes lightheadedness, fainting, and shock. 


Cause 


The most common type of ectopic pregnancy is the one that occurs in the fallopian tubes, also known as tubal pregnancy. It occurs when a fertilized egg gets stuck on the way to its uterus and can not imbed itself in the uterus due to any abnormality or damage in the fallopian tubes. Furthermore, hormonal imbalance may also play a role in causing an ectopic pregnancy. 


Risk factors


The risk factors for ectopic pregnancy are:


  • Having a history of ectopic pregnancy 

  • Having any sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis 

  • Inflammation of the fallopian tubes 

  • Getting treated for infertility and receiving IVF treatments

  • Infertility 

  • Getting surgery done of the fallopian tubes

  • Using the intrauterine device as contraception - generally, the IUD provides efficient contraception. But if pregnancy occurs with its use it is mostly an ectopic pregnancy. 

  • Getting tubal ligation done as a contraception method 

  • Smoking cigarettes, even before pregnancy 



Complications 


Ectopic pregnancy can cause your fallopian tubes to burst to cause immense pain and bleeding, resulting in a life-threatening condition. If you get to know about yourself having an ectopic pregnancy, do not delay your visit to a health care provider. 


Prevention 


To prevent ectopic pregnancy you must protect yourself from;

 Getting infected with sexually transmitted infections by using condoms

Quitting smoking before conception


Conclusion


An ectopic pregnancy is the one in which the fertilization takes place outside the uterus. It can also occur in the fallopian tubes, the pregnancy is known as tubal pregnancy. However, it can also occur in the other parts like the abdominal cavity, the cervix-a connection between vagina and uterus, or ovary.


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