FERTILITY TOGETHER BLOG

Ectopic Pregnancy

Come again? EGGtopic? What does that mean?

I’ve been very surprised to find out that the majority of women trying to conceive or whom are pregnant have never heard of an ectopic pregnancy. It just goes to show how much is still unknown & unspoken in the fertility world & furthers my passion for outreach, education & compassion.

An ectopic pregnancy is when an embryo implants & pregnancy occurs/grows anywhere outside of the uterus. The most common type of ectopic pregnancy is within the fallopian tube (sometimes referred to as a tubal pregnancy) but it can also occur in the cervix, within a C-section scar, in muscle tissue or even outside of the reproductive organs (within the peritoneal or abdominal cavities). This happens because embryos, whether conceiving naturally or via fertility treatment, float around before deciding to implant. The common misconception when it comes to IVF is that because embryos are being implanted & therefore “controlled” there shouldn’t be a possibility for ectopic pregnancy – they should be placed directly where they need to go in the uterus. And they are. But they can still float around & out of the uterine cavity, unfortunately.

There are certain conditions/medical histories that increase the likelihood of ectopic pregnancy & once you have one the chances of having another are increased as the first can leave behind scar tissue/adhesions. There is testing that can be done to show the condition of your uterine cavity & fallopian tubes & I’m happy to discuss this further with you. For now, here are some causes:

PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), often caused by STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)

PID is caused by sexually transmitted bacterial infection & can cause scar tissue/adhesions within your reproductive organs.

The tricky thing with PID is that it can often be asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms) & you would never know until you start trying to conceive without success or if you end up with chronic pelvic pain.

Previous surgery in the pelvic/abdominal area that can cause scar tissue/adhesions – such as appendicitis/ruptured appendix/appendectomy

Congenital defects that alter normal anatomy

You can be born with an issue that causes abnormalities in your reproductive organs & you wouldn’t necessarily  know it until you have specific testing done.

Conceiving after having your tubes tied or while an IUD is in place

Smoking

Endometriosis

So how do you know if you’re having an ectopic pregnancy & what do you do about it? Unless you are being treated at a fertility clinic the chances are your OB won’t see you for pregnancy until around 6 weeks – which is usually ok because you typically don’t feel symptoms from an ectopic until then BUT. There are cases that cause pain, bleeding & dangerous complications before this point. Therefore it’s important to recognize the signs & contact your doctor immediately if you’re suspect. These include unilateral (one-sided) sharp or stabbing pain that can dull & intensify, vaginal bleeding, GI upset, dizziness or fainting/feeling faint.

Always remember, you are your own #1 healthcare advocate so look out for yourself & don’t be afraid to let your medical facility know!

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