An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy, which is established in any other location but the lining of the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies are also called as tubal pregnancies as they are invariably formed inside the fallopian tubes of the woman. However, they are also found in other locations like the cervix, ovaries and even the abdominal cavity.
Several risk factors predispose women towards developing an ectopic pregnancy. These are Pelvic Inflammatory disease, sterilization and previous ectopic pregnancies.
Signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy
There are some characteristic signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. They may begin 6-8 weeks after the pregnancy has been established. Here are some of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy.
One of the characteristic symptoms of ectopic pregnancy is abdominal pain. This pain is very different from normal cramping which occurs during pregnancy. The pain can be very sudden and intense especially if the pregnancy has been established in the ovaries or the fallopian tubes. It can also be dangerous as there are chances of the tubes rupturing and causing internal bleeding.
Absence of Periods
Like any pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy also shows the classic signs of amenorrhea or missed menstrual periods. The woman may skip her period and this should give her a clear indication that she may have conceived.
Vaginal bleeding may occur once the ectopic pregnancy has been established. This can be confirmed through a routine ultrasound. The bleeding may be light and intermittent or very heavy if left ignored.
If the fertilized egg is located in the cervix or the fallopian tubes, the woman may also experience some other characteristic signs of pregnancy like nausea and vomiting. This makes diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy difficult. However, physicians are able to identify an ectopic pregnancy in time due to the routine conduct of ultrasounds in pregnancy.
The woman may also develop nipple soreness and breast tenderness in the earlier stages of pregnancy.
Falling HCG Levels
In a normal pregnancy, the HCG levels should ideally rise and double every 48 hours. This is an indication that the embryo is growing well. In ectopic pregnancies, however, the HCG levels begin to fall after some time especially when there is a threat of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is another sign of an ectopic pregnancy. This generally occurs when the pregnancy causes tissue rupture and internal bleeding. The blood pressure levels may fall dangerously and during this period, the woman may need immediate medical attention.
In very severe cases of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, the woman may go into shock. When she goes into shock, her pulse rate comes down and her skin may become pale. She may also start palpitating or sweating.
Dizziness and Fainting
Dizziness and fainting may occur in ectopic pregnancy. This is also a symptom of a normal pregnancy.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain may occur in cases where the pregnancy has formed inside the abdominal cavity. This may cause the woman severe abdominal pain and backache.
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