It is when the pregnancy develops outside the uterus or womb, usually in the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy can a woman’s health and life at risk if it is not detected early and handled appropriately.
Usually the egg is meted with the sperm in the fallopian tube (tubular structure that communicates the ovary with the uterine cavity (womb). Once the egg is fertilized, the embryo starts to grow and travels through the tube to reach the uterus where it is implanted and grows to form a baby. When a fertilized egg implants or grows outside the uterus it is called ectopic pregnancy.
When an ectopic pregnancy is suspected, serial measurements of the hormone hCG produced by pregnancy should be made. It’s combined values with ultrasound can determine if the pregnancy is located in the uterus, although laparoscopy is sometimes necessary.
A pregnancy outside the uterus will not be viable and requires some treatment in order to avoid complications such as bleeding and infertility. Ectopic pregnancy can be treated with a drug called methotrexate, with minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy), and in some special cases can be observed until it disappears spontaneously without treatment.
You are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy if:
- Have had surgery on the pelvis or abdomen
- You have had sexually transmitted diseases or pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Have endometriosis
- You have or have had a history of infertility and have been treated for it
- You had an ectopic pregnancy in the past
- You have been pregnant with an intrauterine device placed
If you seek pregnancy or are pregnant and have any of these antecedents you should seek an evaluation soon by the specialist.