Eptopic Pregnancy

If you have any concerns or questions about Eptopic Pregnancy speak to your GP or midwife - this information is a general overview and not intended as professional medical advice.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants outside the uterus. This most commonly occurs in the fallopian tube, but it can also happen in an ovary, the cervix or the abdomen.

Symptoms

If you have any of these symptoms, then it is strongly advisable that you see your GP as soon as possible. You can visit accident and emergency, if it is out of the GP’s hours of work.

  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis. This can be coupled with nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea, pain when having a bowel movement or when passing water.
  • Pain in your shoulder.
  • In cases where the ectopic has ruptured severe pain occurs. You can also develop the symptoms of shock, such as paleness, racing pulse and faintness.
  • A pregnancy test will sometimes, but not always show a positive result.

Treatment

Either keyhole surgery is carried out to remove the embryo, or the drug methotrexate can be given. If the ectopic ruptures, you may need to have the fallopian tube and the embryo removed, under general anaesthetic.

What increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy?

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy.
  • Previous abdominal surgery.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Endometriosis.
  • If the contraceptive coil has been used, or if the mini-pill has been taken.
  • The risk increases as you get older.

Will I be able to have a normal pregnancy, following an ectopic?

If your fallopian tubes are undamaged, then your chance of conceiving should be unaffected. If one tube is badly damaged or has been removed, then you have a reduced chance of conception. If both tubes were damaged, then it is still possible to conceive using IVF (intro-vitro fertilization). You may have an increased risk of having another ectopic pregnancy, but many women go on to have successful pregnancies.

After an ectopic pregnancy

can expect to get your first period within 6 weeks. Your cycle should then return to how it was prior to the ectopic. You may experience some pain or discomfort for up to 6 weeks.

When can we try for a baby again?

It is advisable to give your body chance to heal. You would be able to conceive within 6 weeks of losing your pregnancy, but you have a higher risk having a subsequent ectopic pregnancy, the sooner you try. Doctor’s advice is usually to wait for at least 3 months.

Your emotions

Experiencing ectopic pregnancy can be highly traumatic and devastating. You are grieving for the baby you have lost. You may also be worried about how your fertility has been affected. Your feelings should not be underestimated.

You might find it helpful to talk to your GP. They can recommend things that can help you, such as counselling. You can also contact the Miscarriage association on 01924 200799 or the Scottish helpline on 0131 3348883. Visit their website at www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk .

Also try the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust on 01895 238025, www.ectopic.org.uk .