Ectopic pregnancy | NHS
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Ectopic pregnancy | NHS


An ectopic pregnancy is any pregnancy
that implants outside the uterus or womb which is where a normal pregnancy
implants and grows. The majority of ectopic pregnancies
develop in the fallopian tube which links the ovary to the womb. My husband and I were trying for a baby. We tried for about six months
without any real success. I had what I thought was a period
after two weeks, although it was light
and it was a strange colour as well. The symptoms are pain and bleeding. Often it’s just spotting, so very light
bleeding when the woman goes to the loo, or it could be heavier bleeding
like a period, sometimes with clots. In terms of the pain
she might experience, classically, it’s on the side
of the ectopic pregnancy. It’s a sharp, stitch-like pain. Actually, the pain in real life
is often more non-specific than that. The vast majority of time, we never
establish what the cause has been. In terms of risk factors,
anything that scars the fallopian tubes can result in an increased chance
of developing an ectopic pregnancy. The main one being either having
had a previous ectopic pregnancy or having had a pelvic infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea
that could scar the tubes. The majority of women
will come to the early pregnancy clinic. They’ve done
a positive pregnancy test at home and developed pain or bleeding.
She will have an ultrasound scan. Once the diagnosis is established,
she’ll be offered a range of treatments. The opposite extreme is if a woman
has a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. The tube has burst
and is causing internal bleeding. in which case she might present with having collapsed at home
in severe pain and be very unwell. I was just suddenly doubled over
with excruciating abdominal pain. I think I may have passed out. I ended up in hospital. I was finding it
very difficult to breathe. I had a lot of pain near my neck
and by my shoulder and could not breathe deeply
without it really hurting. I didn’t really understand properly
what it was and that it did mean
an unviable pregnancy and that you would lose your baby. I was bleeding internally because
of the rupture in my fallopian tube. My abdominal cavity
was filling up with blood which was what was causing the pain. I was immediately sent to the women’s
centre for keyhole surgery. If a woman does need surgery
for an ectopic pregnancy it can be done either through
a cut in the tummy or through keyhole surgery
which has a quicker recovery time. Once the surgeon has a look inside and
confirms the diagnosis of an ectopic, he or she has a choice of either trying
to preserve the tube and shell out the ectopic on its own or whether to remove the tube
in its entirety. The reason for my ectopic pregnancy
was unknown. So it was quite terrifying
to realise that I’d lost a baby through no known cause and the impact of that on how I felt
about future pregnancies was basically
just a complete increase in fear. There are support sites, particularly
on the website, that she can turn to. The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust
is one of the main ones. I did feel very alone. It was only through a charity online that I was able to make contact
with other people who were experiencing similar things. If you take about 100 women
who’ve had an ectopic pregnancy, 60 to 70 per cent of those women will be
able to get pregnant again naturally without any assisted conception. We did manage to conceive
with a healthy pregnancy and I now have
a healthy ten-month-old boy. It’s only the tiny minority
of pregnancies which are really serious and have the potential to cause
big complications and even death. However, the earlier a woman
comes and seeks help, the more options she has and the better
the assessment can be made.

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