Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the womb (uterus). Most ectopic pregnancies occur within a fallopian tube. Other, less common locations may include the cervix, an ovary, or the abdominal cavity. This type of pregnancy cannot survive because only the uterus can support the growth of a fetus and its placenta.

  • Causes

    Many ectopic pregnancies occur because the fallopian tube is not functioning normally.

  • Definition

    An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the womb (uterus). Most ectopic pregnancies occur within a fallopian tube. Other, less common locations may include the cervix, an ovary, or the abdominal cavity. This type of pregnancy cannot survive because only the uterus can support the growth of a fetus and its placenta.

    Ectopic Pregnancy
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be also be done.

    Tests may include:

    • Pregnancy test
    • Pelvic exam
    • Blood tests
    • Transvaginal ultrasound (to check the uterus and fallopian tubes for the presence or absence of a pregnancy)

  • Prevention

    While there are no clear ways to reduce your risk of ectopic pregnancies, it may be helpful to:


    • Maintain safe sexual practices to avoid
      sexually transmitted diseases
      (STDs)

      , which can damage to the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
    • Get early diagnosis and treatment of STDs.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk ectopic pregnancy include:

    • Previous ectopic pregnancies

    • History of
      pelvic inflammatory disease
      (PID)
    • Endometriosis
    • Prior surgery on fallopian tubes or uterus
    • Fertility treatments
    • Abnormally-shaped uterus and/or fallopian tubes

    • Presence of an
      intrauterine device (IUD)

    • Pregnancy that occurs after a sterilization procedure (
      tubal ligation
      )
    • Smoking
    • Race: non-white
    • Age: 35 or older

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Missed or abnormal menstrual period
    • Abdominal pain
    • Spotty vaginal bleeding
    • Pain in the shoulder
    • Fainting

  • Treatment

    Treatment options include: