Signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy

With an ectopic pregnancy, you may have all the usual signs and symptoms of a normal pregnancy: fatigue, nausea, and breast tenderness. Unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy is dangerous to your health, and the fertilized egg won’t survive.

Given the complexities surrounding an ectopic pregnancy, our experienced team at Cary OB/GYN wants to share some of the signs and symptoms you may experience with an ectopic pregnancy so you can get the immediate help you need.

About an ectopic pregnancy

Pregnancy occurs when your egg is fertilized by sperm. This usually occurs when your egg is traveling down a fallopian tube toward your uterus. Even after fertilization, it can take your egg several days to make its way to the uterus for implantation and growth.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when your fertilized egg implants itself outside of your uterus. More than 90% of ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube. However, your fertilized egg may also implant itself in other areas of your pelvic region, such as your ovaries, cervix, or lower abdominal area.

No matter where the ectopic pregnancy occurs, when not implanted in the uterus, your fertilized egg can’t survive. Additionally, as the egg grows, it may put your life at risk. 

Early signs of an ectopic pregnancy

The early signs of an ectopic pregnancy are very much like the early signs of a normal pregnancy. You skip your period and may feel nauseous and develop breast tenderness. An at-home pregnancy test can let you know that you’re pregnant. 

As with any pregnancy, we recommend that you contact us as soon as you know you're pregnant so we can schedule your first prenatal exam. Normally, we schedule the first visit about eight weeks after your last menstrual period. 

As your ectopic pregnancy progresses, you may start to experience other signs and symptoms that may not be so normal, such as pelvic pain or spotting. When the blood comes from the fallopian tube, you may feel pain that radiates to your shoulder or have a sudden urge to move your bowels. 

Any signs and symptoms that seem out of the norm benefit from a visit to our office. Finding an ectopic pregnancy early may prevent more serious health complications.

Emergency ectopic pregnancy symptoms

As the fertilized egg grows, your symptoms may worsen. You may start to experience more severe pelvic pain, dizziness, weakness, or fainting. 

When an ectopic pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tube, the tube may rupture as the implanted egg enlarges, causing an unexpected intense pain. Your ruptured fallopian tube may cause heavy, life-threatening internal bleeding that requires emergency medical care to repair. 

Treatment for an ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy can’t be relocated to the uterus. Depending on the location and stage of your ectopic pregnancy, we treat you with medication or surgery.

The medication we use for an ectopic pregnancy stops further growth of the egg, which your body then reabsorbs. For surgery, we use minimally invasive techniques to perform a salpingostomy (removal of the ectopic pregnancy) or a salpingectomy (removal of ectopic pregnancy and fallopian tube). 

Whether treated with medication or surgery, we schedule regular follow-up appointments to monitor you and your health after treatment.

When left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy may lead to life-threatening internal bleeding. Knowing the signs and symptoms helps you get an early diagnosis and the treatment you need right away.

To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced OB/GYNs, call us or book an appointment online at the office nearest you.

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