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Tubal Pregnancy

Definition of Tubal Pregnancy

Normally, during pregnancy, a fertilised egg attaches itself to the uterine lining. However, many times, due to certain conditions or issues, an egg gets implanted outside the uterus, which is known as an ectopic pregnancy. When an ectopic pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tube, it is known as a tubal pregnancy, meaning that the fertilised egg somehow implants itself in the fallopian tube before reaching the uterus.

A fertilised egg cannot survive outside the uterus and if left untreated, it can lead to tubal rupture, which in ectopic pregnancy is a common risk that can be fatal in severe cases.

By definition, tubal pregnancy is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention and treatment. Tubal pregnancy is cause for concern but does not necessarily indicate fertility issues as after treatment or surgery for tubal pregnancy, women may still be able to conceive and go on to have healthy pregnancies.

Symptoms of Tubal Pregnancy

the early symptoms of tubal pregnancy are similar to those of a normal pregnancy. However, some may also experience some additional symptoms that may be indicative of a tubal pregnancy. These include:

  • Sharp pain in the side of the abdomen. May be accompanied by cramps or abdominal tenderness.
  • Pain in the lower back or pelvis.
  • Dizziness.
  • Weakness.
  • Vaginal bleeding that is different from the normal menstrual flow.

In case of a tubal rupture in ectopic pregnancy, other symptoms may also appear, depending on where the blood is collecting and the nerves that are being irritated by the same. Common symptoms of tubal rupture in ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Shoulder pain.
  • Rectal pressure, frequent urge to have a bowel movement, bowel issues.
  • Severe pain in the pelvis or abdomen, often accompanied by vaginal bleeding.
  • Extreme light-headedness.
  • Fainting spells.
  • Hypotension.

Causes of Tubal Pregnancy

Conditions that can affect the movement of the egg down the fallopian tube can lead to the development of a tubal ectopic pregnancy. This may include:

  • Prior pelvic surgery having resulted in adhesions, inflammation, or scar tissues.
  • Fallopian tubes having incurred damage, such as from an STI.
  • Having irregularly shaped fallopian tubes.
  • Having a growth that blocks the fallopian tubes.
  • Having developed a tubal pregnancy previously.

There are also several risk factors that increase the chance of one having a tubular ectopic pregnancy:

  • In rare cases, women who have undergone a tubectomy operation after delivery, where their fallopian tubes are tied off (tubal litigation), are at risk of tubal pregnancy if they conceive.
  • Conceiving while using certain contraceptive devices, like intrauterine devices (IUDs), is rare, but if it does happen, there are high chances of it being a tubal pregnancy.
  • Having undergone surgery of the fallopian tubes or pelvic area.
  • A history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is an infection that causes scar tissue formation over the fallopian tubes, cervix, ovaries, and uterus.
  • Endometriosis, where the tissue similar to the uterus lining starts growing in various places in the pelvic and abdominal area.
  • Hormonal imbalances or abnormalities of the reproductive system.
  • Smoking before conception can increase the risk of tubal pregnancy. The more one smokes, the higher are their chances of developing tubal pregnancy on conception.

How to Manage Tubal Pregnancy

As most early symptoms of tubal pregnancy are similar to those of a normal pregnancy, many people don’t find out about it being tubal until their prenatal check-up or ultrasound. For diagnosis, certain tests for tubal pregnancy may be prescribed, including:

  • A confirmatory test for confirming pregnancy.
  • Pelvic exam.
  • Urine test.
  • Blood test.
  • Ultrasound.

Tubal pregnancy is a medical emergency requiring urgent treatment and early detection and diagnosis are essential for proper management of the condition. Healthcare providers generally prescribe medication and surgery for tubal pregnancy treatment:

  • Medication like methotrexate may be suggested to stop the growth of the fertilised egg, thereby ending the pregnancy. However, medication cannot be used in case of a tubal rupture in an ectopic pregnancy.
  • If the fallopian tube has ruptured or if there’s a risk of rupture, surgery may be required. Depending on the condition of the tube, surgery may be performed to remove only the egg, leaving the tube intact, or in severe cases, the entire tube with the egg may have to be removed.

While it is not possible to prevent a tubal ectopic pregnancy, there are several lifestyle and habit modifications that can help lower one’s risk of developing a tubal pregnancy. These include:

  • Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Avoiding the use of recreational drugs.
  • Practising safe sex to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections that can damage the reproductive system.

When to See an OB/GYN?

If one is pregnant, it is crucial for them to ensure they get all necessary prenatal check-ups done on time. A tubal pregnancy can be detected during the first trimester during the prenatal tests. In case the doctor suspects something, they can prescribe the required test for tubal pregnancy for confirmation. Other than this, emergency medical care should be provided if one starts showing signs or symptoms of a tubal pregnancy, as listed above, like severe pelvic pain or abdominal pain with vaginal bleeding, fainting, extreme light-headedness, shoulder pain, etc.

Whether it is a test for tubal pregnancy detection or tests to monitor HCG levels post treatment of a tubal pregnancy, it is extremely convenient to book diagnostic tests at Max Lab. One may also opt for an at-home sample collection. Test reports are generated in quick time and made available online at our website for download. Once the report has been generated, it is suggested that patients consult their doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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