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An Ectopic Pregnancy

Updated on December 3, 2012

An ectopic pregancy occurs when the fertilised egg embeds in the fallopian tube and starts to grow.

In a normal pregnancy, the egg gets released from the ovary, travels down the fallopian tube, and embeds itself in the rich lining of the uterus. From this fertilised egg develops the afterbirth and cord that feeds the growing baby in sitio in the womb. All this grows from that one fertilized egg. All the mother has to do is provide a safe haven for the fertilized egg to develop. A woman’s uterus provides nourishment and protection for the growing baby within.

Girl children are born with their life’s supply of eggs already inside them, in the ovary, waiting for the chance to mature enough to be released.

By the time the woman is 40 years old, so are her eggs. This is partly why there is a greater danger of miscarriage or abnormality. Mother Nature has used her best eggs first and the ones left are old, or second-best, because they were not released when the woman was at a prime age for carrying and giving birth to a healthy child.

If a woman isn’t pregnant or lactating, her body releases one or more eggs every month, at the same time, roughly 2 weeks before she menstruates. If the egg(s) do not get fertilised, the lining of the womb which has spent the previous 2 weeks building up a healthy cushiony blood filled lining to prepare for a fertilised egg, is dropped away. This is known as menstruation and happens to every single woman on the planet.

However, if the egg(s) gets fertilised, the resulting embryo(s) contains all the genetic code needed to build itself a nest inside that warm cosy bloody lined uterus.

In an ectopic pregnancy, things go a bit wrong.

Sign and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy

Sign and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include

  • · Abdominal pain
  • · Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • · Lower back pain
  • · Dizziness (caused by blood loss)
  • · Low blood pressure

If you are in the early stages of pregnancy, and complain of any of the above symptoms, please visit your doctor as soon as possible to have this condition ruled out.

If your pregnancy is confirmed as being ectopic, you will have to terminate, simply because there is no place for that baby to grow. If you do not, you will present very quickly at the Accident & Emergency Unit when the organ containing your baby ruptures, putting your life at risk. Your baby cannot grow to maturity where it is, nor can it be moved to a safer position.

An ectopic pregnancy is a very sad thing for a woman to experience, especially if the child was wanted. But it is equally sad for unwanted or unexpected pregnancies, because it is normal for the woman to lose that fallopian tube or ovary, reducing her chances of a successful future pregnancy by 50%.

Sometimes, and there is no known general reason why the embryo chooses to embed itself outwith the uterus. It could embed in the ovary itself, or get stuck in the fallopian tube.

This is known as an ectopic pregnancy, or sometimes as a tubal pregnancy.

Pregnancy starts as normal. The woman may get morning sickness, sore breasts, missed periods, all the normal signs of pregnancy.

But as the embryo grows outwith the womb, so does the strain on the surrounding tissue that was not designed to sustain a growing baby.

Causes of ectopic pregnancy

What usually gets the blame is a damaged or blocked fallopian tube, but many women experience ectopic pregnancies without having any history of any form of intra-uterine infection or surgery, which can cause damage to a fallopian tube. In fact, during surgery to remove the embryo, many surgeons report a completely healthy fallopian tube.

Many ectopic pregnancies are without a known cause, but you are a higher risk if you have already suffered a previous ectopic pregnancy, have had fallopian tube surgery – perhaps a sterilisation and/or reversal operation, or suffer from infections of the uterus and surrounding tissue .

Many women go on to give birth to healthy babies after suffering from an ectopic pregnancy. Like a lot of miscarriages, it’s just one of those things you have to put down to experience, with no-one to blame and nothing at fault.


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    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Great article which contains vital information which is meant for every body usage.thanks for sharing.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Thanks Hector, and you're very welcome :)

    • profile image

      Hector Baird 6 years ago

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      Clare 7 years ago

      This article has a lot of information that is technical in nature. One thing that is really helpful is that the types of losses are broken down: miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy.