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Ectopic Pregnancy

What is Ectopic Pregnancy?

In a normal pregnancy, a fertilised egg attaches itself to the uterus lining. However, in cases where the egg implants itself outside the uterus, it is referred to as an ectopic pregnancy. Unable to reach the uterus, the egg may implant itself in the fallopian tube, abdominal cavity, or cervix. As a fertilised egg cannot grow anywhere outside the uterus, ectopic pregnancies are nonviable. It is also important to get immediate treatment for an ectopic pregnancy as if left untreated, it can turn into a medical emergency with severe consequences. Timely management of an ectopic pregnancy can reduce the risk of complications and future health issues.

Types of Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies are categorised on the basis of the location where the fertilised egg has been implanted outside the uterus. Generally, an ultrasound test for ectopic pregnancy is performed to ascertain the position of the egg. The most common types of ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Tubal Pregnancy

Tubal pregnancy is the most common type of ectopic pregnancy. This is where the egg gets implanted inside the fallopian tube.

  • Non-Tubal Ectopic Pregnancy

A non-tubal pregnancy is where the egg is implanted inside the ovaries. It is the second most common type of ectopic pregnancy.

  • Heterotopic pregnancy

This is a rare type of ectopic pregnancy, where an egg is implanted in the lining of the uterus while another egg may be implanted outside. If the patient’s HCG levels continue to rise after treatment of the ectopic pregnancy, chances are that the intrauterine pregnancy may still be viable.

Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

Mostly, the signs of ectopic pregnancy at up to 6 weeks are similar to the symptoms of a regular pregnancy. A test for ectopic pregnancy may be prescribed as part of a regular prenatal check-up during the first trimester. However, other symptoms of ectopic pregnancy may start appearing and may indicate a medical emergency. Such signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy can include:

  • Sharp pain in the pelvis, abdomen, neck, or shoulder
  • Severe pain in one side of the abdomen
  • Vaginal bleeding (light to heavy vaginal bleeding, is an ectopic pregnancy symptom that is quite common across cases)
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting spells
  • Rectal pressure

If signs of ectopic pregnancy, like pain, are displayed by pregnant women, it is crucial that they seek immediate medical attention.

Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy

There is not much clarity on the exact causes of ectopic pregnancy, but several conditions have been associated with the development. These conditions include:

  • Inflammation or scarring of the fallopian tubes caused by a previous medical condition.
  • Hormonal factors.
  • Genetic abnormalities.
  • Congenital defects.
  • Irregular shape or condition of the fallopian tubes and reproductive organs, caused by some medical condition.

While any sexually active woman is at risk for developing an ectopic pregnancy, there are several factors that increase the chances of the same.

  • 35 years’ maternal age or more.
  • History of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), endometriosis, previous ectopic pregnancy, STDs.
  • Conception despite using an IUD or having undergone tubal litigation.
  • Structural abnormalities of the fallopian tubes that make it difficult for the egg to travel to the uterus.
  • After pelvic or abdominal surgery, having undergone multiple abortions, or after some other similar medical procedure, an ectopic pregnancy becomes more likely.

Prompt medical attention is extremely important to ensure that proper treatment is administered, so the commonly occurring side effects after ectopic pregnancy treatment can be avoided.

Medical Management of an Ectopic Pregnancy

A physical exam can be a part of the test for ectopic pregnancy, but alone it cannot detect an ectopic pregnancy. Tests for diagnosing ectopic surgery generally include urine tests, blood tests, and transvaginal ultrasounds. Based on the location of the pain of an ectopic pregnancy and diagnostic and imaging results, a doctor can determine where the egg has implanted, whether it has led to a tubal rupture, and the severity of the condition, which is crucial for proper medical management of an ectopic pregnancy. Mostly, for treating ectopic pregnancy, surgery and medication are prescribed, based on the severity of pain, egg location, etc. Ectopic pregnancy is not safe for the mother and is not viable. So, based on the signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy and its development, treatment can include:


In cases where immediate occurrence of side-effects after ectopic pregnancy treatment are unlikely, a doctor may prescribe medication to stop the growth of the fertilised egg and to prevent the ectopic mass from bursting. If effectively administered, this treatment will cause symptoms similar to those of a miscarriage, like passing tissue, bleeding, and cramping.


Post the 9-week mark, a surgery for ectopic pregnancy treatment is the only way forward. In a surgery, the embryo is removed and any fallopian tube damage noticeable is repaired. In some cases, however, the fallopian tube may have to be removed as well.

At-Home Management of Ectopic Pregnancy Post Treatment

Basic precautions should be followed post-treatment, including:

  • Not lifting heavy objects.
  • Preventing issues like constipation by ensuring plenty of fluid intake.
  • Pelvic rest.
  • Bed rest initially, then slowly increasing activities, based on tolerance and ability.

While ectopic pregnancy cannot be avoided completely, following healthy lifestyle habits and going for regular gynaecology screenings and check-ups is a good way to reduce one’s risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy.

With timely management of an ectopic pregnancy, one can preserve their chance of having a normal, healthy pregnancy in the future.

When to See an OB/GYN?

If one starts noticing symptoms of ectopic pregnancy like pain or bleeding, they should immediately consult their doctor. Even with no noticeable signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, ensuring regular prenatal check-ups should be performed on time.

At Max Lab, online bookings can be made for diagnostic tests for confirming pregnancy, detecting an ectopic pregnancy, or monitoring the efficacy of a treatment plan one is undergoing. Max Lab also offers an at-home sample collection facility for enhanced convenience.

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