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About Symptoms Of Ectopic Pregnancy

written by: Stephanie Mojica • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 7/1/2010

The symptoms of ectopic pregnancy can be fatal if not promptly identified and treated. Learn more about what to look for so you can protect your health and future childbearing abilities.

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    Overview

    An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fetus rests in the hopeful mom’s fallopian tube rather than the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic. Such pregnancies, also called tubal, are usually detected within the first three months. A tubal or ectopic pregnancy cannot become a traditional pregnancy and must be medically treated to avoid serious health conditions, some of which are life-threatening. Keeping an eye out for potential symptoms of ectopic pregnancy can very well save a woman’s life as well as childbearing ability.

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    Identification of Symptoms

    Any unusual bleeding during pregnancy is usually not a good sign, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, this can also indicate a miscarriage especially during the early weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms of ectopic pregnancies usually also include serious abdominal pain, especially as the growing fetus increases the pressure on the woman’s fallopian tube. As the medical condition progresses, the woman will often experience dizziness and lightheadedness. When the situation becomes life-threatening, the woman will usually suffer from an extreme urge to pass feces without results, shoulder pain, extreme lightheadedness and fainting. The body can go into shock at this point, which can cause death.

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    More about Treatment Options

    Once a doctor determines that a woman has suffered an ectopic pregnancy, he can either inject drugs to dissolve the fetal tissue or surgically remove the fetus in a medical abortion procedure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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    Risks

    Not treating a tubal pregnancy promptly can cause potentially fatal bleeding, according to the Mayo Clinic. Also, some women lose fertility and even their reproductive organs for not getting prompt medical intervention for such pregnancies. If an ectopic pregnancy is detected and medically eliminated before a crisis happens such as fallopian tube rupture, then the woman can often go on to have future healthy pregnancies. Sometimes a ruptured fallopian tube can be repaired and fertility saved, but this isn’t always the case.

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    About Potential Causes and Risk Factors

    Medical experts don’t really know why some pregnancies are tubal while others proceed normally. Women who had numerous sexual partners before conception are more likely to experience ectopic pregnancies than those who limit the number of men with whom they engage in intercourse. Untreated pelvic inflammatory disease can also create a tubal pregnancy and the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy.

    Additionally, once a woman has one ectopic pregnancy she is more likely to experience another. A medical history of endometriosis also slightly increases the risk of tubal pregnancy. Women who used intrauterine devices (IUDs) as birth control and become pregnant anyway are far more likely to suffer from tubal pregnancies. Women who become pregnant after a tubal ligation also are more likely to have a fetus nested in the fallopian tube. The good news is that IUDs and tubal ligation methods are virtually always effective.

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    References

    Mayo Clinic: Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ectopic-pregnancy/ds00622/dsection=symptoms