Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs – inadvertently – in the fallopian tube. It is important to understand the female reproductive system to understand how a pregnancy can occur in the fallopian tube.

Simply put, a “ripe” egg travels from the ovary to the uterus through the fallopian tube. Sperm swim into the fallopian tube to meet and fertilize the egg in the tube. This is natural and normal. The fertilized egg then travels through the fallopian tube into the uterus where it becomes implanted and begins to develop. Should the fertilized egg become attached within the fallopian tube instead of continuing its journey to the uterus, then an ectopic pregnancy occurs. As in all pregnancies, the fertilized egg begins to reproduce – becoming an embryo – and as it grows there is no room for it in the fallopian tube. This is not only dangerous, but can also be life threatening if the fallopian tube bursts as the embryo develops.

A woman may not know that she is experiencing an ectopic pregnancy since she may not even know that she is pregnant at such an early stage. She may have severe abdominal pain in which case she should go to the emergency room immediately. The pregnancy cannot be saved. There are different procedures that can be performed – even medications that can be taken to dissolve the pregnancy if it is not too advanced. Laparoscopic surgery (through the navel) can sometimes work to remove the embryo, otherwise abdominal surgery may have to be performed. These days it is unlikely that a woman would lose one of her fallopian tubes, but it can happen.

Subsequent pregnancies are achievable but may require greater medical interventions in an effort to prevent another ectopic pregnancy. For unknown reasons, a woman may be prone to ectopic pregnancies.

With so many technological and medical advances your physician can be a knowledgeable source for helping you understand the ramifications of an ectopic pregnancy and how to achieve a subsequent successful intra-uterine pregnancy.