During ovulation, conception occurs when the egg (ovum) is released from the ovaries and the sperm meets the egg
in the fallopian tube. In a normal pregnancy the fertilised egg travels from the fallopian tube down to the uterus and
implants in the uterine lining (endometrium).
With an ectopic pregnancy however, the fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube, cervix or anywhere in your
pelvis instead of the uterus lining.
The risk of an Ectopic pregnancy increases if you have any of the following conditions:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices
- Damaged fallopian tubes
- A Sexually-transmitted disease (STD)
- Scarring as a result of previous pelvic surgery
- Previous ectopic pregnancy
- A botched or unsuccessful tubal ligation or tubal ligation reversal
- Been taking fertility drugs
- Had in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other fertility treatment
Signs and Symptoms
If you have an ectopic pregnancy, you may experience any or all of the following signs or symptoms:
- Common signs of pregnancy such as missed period, great tenderness and morning sickness
- Light vaginal bleeding or spotting
- Pelvic pain
- Pain in the lower abdomen or back
- Cramping on one side of your pelvis
- Sudden acute abdominal cramping (Fallopian tube rupture)
To determine whether it is an ectopic pregnancy a range of tests are performed by your doctor such as pelvic
examination, blood tests, ultrasound and laparoscopy. A ruptured ectopic is a medical emergency and laparoscopic
surgery is required to remove the embryo and affected fallopian tube. For non-emergency ectopic pregnancies,
medication can often be successful though surgery can still often be required.
If you have an ectopic pregnancy, there is no reason to believe you can’t have a normal pregnancy in the future. It is
important to ensure your Doctor is aware of your medical history and risk factors so you can be monitored closely in
early pregnancy through blood tests and ultrasound.
In summary, an ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus, typically in the fallopian tube.
Symptoms can include vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain or cramping. A ruptured ectopic is considered a medical
emergency needing immediate treatment. If you think you have an ectopic pregnancy see your Doctor, Obstetrician
or in an emergency, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance or go to your closest hospital emergency department.
The above information doesn’t take the place of a medical consultation so please seek further advice if you
have further concerns.