Now, the most common form of ectopic pregnancy is the type that is implanted in one of the fallopian tubes. This explains why an ectopic pregnancy is also known as a tubal pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy is very dangerous and can lead to the death of the carrier (mother) if not quickly detected. Therefore, upon detection, emergency treatment should commence.
There are several reasons why an embryo would, rather than be implanted in the uterus, choose to implant somewhere else. Perhaps, there has been a damage to the woman's fallopian tube which is the tube the fertilized egg needs to go through to get to the uterus. If there is a damage in this tube, it may lead to blockage somewhere around the tube. A blockage means that the fertilized egg cannot efficiently go through the tube and it is stuck there so it gives up and grows from the tube.
Picture the fallopian tube as a drinking straw, now imagine an egg developing in the straw. You know the straw will swell as the egg develops. That's just my analogy for the egg in the fallopian tube. It grows to the point where the fallopian tube cannot house it anymore because it is not wide enough so the tube ruptures and then there is a real emergency. The worst case scenario is the death of the carrier.
What could lead to damage to the fallopian tube(s)?
Anything, perhaps a previous surgery or a previous abortion. It could be drugs, it could be an accident, it could be a previous miscarriage. It could be anything.
Because certain women do not quickly know that they are pregnant, some of them never know what they have till it hits them bad. It is important to be conversant with your body and know when something feels wrong. Early detection is the key to avoid death from an ectopic pregnancy, in some rare cases, early detection could save both mother and child.
Ectopic pregnancy is not detected until about 8 weeks after implantation. This is because, prior to the time, the foetus is not seen in an ultrasound scan. Usually, a trans-vaginal ultrasound is used to detect an ectopic pregnancy.
In a trans-vaginal ultrasound, the sonologist inserts something called a probe into the vagina. the probe is made to wear a condom and it is lubricated too. It is a painless procedure. The probe acts as a camera (sort of) that shows the sonologist exactly what is inside the woman's body. This is seen on a screen. This way, the sonologist can easily tell whether or not something is wrong.
Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include
- Pain on one side of the abdomen
- Vaginal bleeding (usually light bleeding)
- Sharp cramps
- shoulder or neck pain
- In severe cases, heavy bleeding (which is as a result of rupture of the fallopian tube)
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to immediately see your physician. Better a false alarm than death.
An ectopic pregnancy is rid of through an abortion. The physician removes the foetus and preserves the fallopian tube.