Thursday, May 23, 2019

Ectopic & Tubal Pregnancy

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Early ectopic pregnancy symptoms can be confusing as they will mimic those of a normal pregnancy. It is crucial to visit a doctor as soon as you suspect an ectopic pregnancy.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg fails to reach the inner lining of the uterus. In 98% of the cases it remains in the fallopian tube causing what is known as a tubal pregnancy. The stuck egg will start dividing and growing, potentially causing tearing of the tubes. This can lead to heavy bleeding and in some remote cases, even to death.

There is no possible way of saving an ectopic pregnancy. Treatment is immediately administrated by removing the egg. The reason for this type of pregnancy is caused by a variety of reasons including:

  • Smoking
  • Endometriosis
  • Invasive surgery on the Fallopian tubes prior to conception
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • In-vitro fertility treatments

Symptoms

Ectopic pregnancy symptoms are the same with a normal pregnancy in the first few weeks. This is because the body recognizes the fact that an egg has been fertilized and starts to go through the normal changes it would with a normal pregnancy. Hormones are released which will lead to positive pregnancy tests. You will start having morning sickness, mood swings and tender breasts, fatigue, nausea and cravings for certain foods and increased sensibility to smell.

As the egg starts growing either in the fallopian tube, ovary, cervix or stomach area – new symptoms will start appear. Amenorrhea is the first symptom to appear, but this is also true for a normal pregnancy.

At first you will feel more nauseous than usual. While this can occur with a normal pregnancy, if constant vomiting is involved, it may be one of the ectopic pregnancy symptoms. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a clear sign of ectopic pregnancy.

By the third week intense low back pain, pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area will provoke discomfort. This ranges from one woman to another, but these signs are clear indicators for ectopic pregnancies. Mild cramping on either side of the pelvis is another sign.

If the ectopic pregnancy is not discovered, your condition will start to get worse as the egg continues to develop, taking up space and causing ruptures which can lead to internal bleeding. This can cause low blood pressure which leads to fainting. The pain will get worse in your lower abdomen and it will be sharp and sudden. Shoulder pain is also a symptom, along with intense pressure in the rectum.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If discovered early, an ectopic pregnancy is fairly simple to treat. A pelvic exam or a transvaginal ultrasound (pregnancy ultrasound) is usually enough to diagnose the ectopic pregnancy. The levels of the hCG hormone in your blood can also indicate towards the condition. A laparoscopy or a laparotomy will be use in extreme cases to diagnose and also to treat the ectopic pregnancy.

If you notice ectopic similar symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Treatment is fairly safe, involving a certain drug called methotrexate.

What is a Tubal pregnancy?

Tubal pregnancies are a form of ectopic pregnancy. They specifically occurs when the egg implants outside the uterine cavity. Most of these types of pregnancies occur in the fallopian tube (about 95% of them).

Causes

When an egg is fertilized, it has to go through the fallopian tube and into the uterus where it will start dividing and become a fetus. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the egg will fail to reach the uterus and will remain in the fallopian tube. Here it will start growing and eventually cause complications to the mother.

There are a number of factors that can lead to tubal pregnancy. Most common of them all is a previous infection of the fallopian tube. The infection damages the tube at some point, causing scaring or distortion of the tissue. When the egg goes through, it could get lodged. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and pelvic inflammatory disease are the usual conditions that could lead to ectopic pregnancy.

Other conditions that could lead to tubal pregnancy are:

  • Invasive surgery procedures done inside the abdomen
  • men, ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, lower abdomen or bowels
  • Previous ectopic pregnancies
  • Use of fertility drugs
  • Endometriosis
  • Use of an intrauterine device
  • Infertility

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Ectopic pregnancies may not necessarily occur in the fallopian tubes. There are 5% chances that the egg will implant in the cervix, abdomen or ovaries – these conditions are known as nontubal ectopic pregnancies.

A tubal pregnancy can be detected between the 5th and 10th week of pregnancy. Initial symptoms may coincide with those attributed to early pregnancy. But as the egg starts to divide and grow, some alarming symptoms may occur.

Most common are:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Shoulder and abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness and overall weakness

If an ectopic pregnancy is suspected, a visit to the doctor is recommended immediately. Ultrasounds are usually used to diagnose the condition, even though it can be pretty hard to do so in the early stages. A laparoscopy procedure is only done in urgent cases and, because it involves surgery, treatment is provided right away if the diagnosis is confirmed.

Treatment consists of two options: surgical (laparoscopy procedure) and chemical. The chemical treatment involves taking a drug called methotrexate. This is the most common method used to treat the condition, for it is noninvasive and there is no risk of damaging the fallopian tubes. Basically, the drug will dissolve the pregnancy, leaving the tubes and other organs intact and safe.

While it is true that after experiencing a tubal pregnancy, chances of going through it again are higher, it is not always the case. If the tubes are intact, there are high chances of a normal pregnancy. Even if surgery was needed in order to treat a ectopic diagnosis and the tubes or other organs were damaged in the process, there are still other options of getting pregnant. Age, the reason why the ectopic pregnancy occurred in the first place and whether the woman has other previous successful pregnancies are all contributing factors to determine the likelihood of ectopic pregnancies occurring again.

Conclusion

If you think you may have the symptoms that are similar or the same as mentioned on this page, then make an appointment with your doctor to get yourself checked out.

A specialist doctor will be able to tell you what your situation is better than anyone else, so go and do that now.

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Jennifer Olson
A mother of three, lover of children and keeping them (and us adults!) as healthy as can be. I have worked as a midwife and nurse for 12 years. Email: [email protected]

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