An ectopic pregnancy is characterized by the implantation and growth of a fertilized egg outside the normal uterine cavity. Typically, the process of pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. However, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, this attachment occurs in a location other than the primary uterine space.
The most common occurrence of ectopic pregnancy is within one of the fallopian tubes, which are responsible for transporting eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. This specific type of ectopic pregnancy is referred to as a tubal pregnancy. On occasion, ectopic pregnancies can also develop in other parts of the body, such as the ovary, the abdominal cavity, or the lower portion of the uterus known as the cervix, which connects to the vagina.
If left untreated, a rupture of the ectopic pregnancy can lead to severe internal bleeding, presenting a life-threatening emergency situation that necessitates immediate surgical intervention.
You might not notice any symptoms at first if you have an ectopic pregnancy. However, some women experience the typical early signs of pregnancy such as a missed period, breast tenderness, and nausea. If you take a pregnancy test, it will show a positive result. But it’s important to know that an ectopic pregnancy cannot progress normally.
As the fertilized egg grows in the wrong place, you’ll start to notice more noticeable signs and symptoms.
Early warning signs of ectopic pregnancy:
The first signs of an ectopic pregnancy often include:
If the fallopian tube leaks blood, you might also feel shoulder pain or have an urge to have a bowel movement. The specific symptoms can vary depending on where the blood collects and which nerves are affected.
If the fertilized egg continues to grow in the fallopian tube, it can lead to the tube rupturing. This is a life-threatening situation and is characterized by:
If you experience any of these emergency symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
A tubal pregnancy, which is the most common form of ectopic pregnancy, occurs when a fertilized egg becomes trapped on its journey to the uterus, typically due to inflammation-induced damage or structural abnormalities in the fallopian tube. Hormonal imbalances and irregular development of the fertilized egg can also contribute to this condition.
You are more likely to experience an ectopic pregnancy if you:
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