With an ectopic pregnancy, the fetus develops outside the uterus. This normally takes place in the fallopian tubes, the cervical canal, or in the actual abdominal cavity. What makes this happen is when an egg is released from the ovary and then it gets swept elsewhere. Normally one in every couple hundred pregnancies result in an ectopic pregnancy with the numbers growing as the years progress.

The egg is normally fertilized inside the fallopian tubes and then it moved through the tube with tiny hair like cilia that takes the fertilized egg to the uterus where a fetus can grow normally. An ectopic pregnancy may be the result of the tubes being blocked for one reason or another. It could have been due to an infection or other female disorder.

If the fertilized egg doesn’t make it to the uterus to be implanted there, an ectopic pregnancy is inevitable. They normally happen in the fallopian tubes more than any other areas of the female body.

It’s important to know that an ectopic pregnancy can take a woman’s life if left untreated. It must be removed as soon as possible after discovering it is outside of the uterus. About 1 in every 1000 women die in the United States as a result of an ectopic pregnancy.

The most common thing that will tell a woman she might have an ectopic pregnancy is cramping and spotting after a missed period. This happens because after the fetus dies, the lining of the uterus sheds as it would with a normal period. If the fetus lives long enough to grow bigger, it will start to tear the walls of the fallopian tube it is located in. This itself will cause bleeding to be present. Pooling blood will cause cramping and the sensation of pressure if the bleeding is gradual. Rapid bleeding can lead to all sorts of trouble. It can lower a woman’s blood pressure so much that she goes into shock.

If the ectopic pregnancy is located partly in the fallopian tube and partly in the uterus, the fetus will have room to live and grow bigger. This usually causes a rupture later than if it was completely in the fallopian tube. A rupture of this kind will generally happen between 12 and 16 weeks of pregnancy. This is when it really gets scary for women. The mortality rate for ruptures of this nature are much higher.

Doctors will check the size of the uterus if a woman has tested positive to being pregnant to make sure it is the right size to have a fetus in it. If it isn’t, doctors will perform an ultrasound to see if the fetus is located elsewhere. If an ectopic pregnancy is suspected, a laparoscope will be used to look at the pregnancy directly.

An ectopic pregnancy is normally removed with surgery. However, there are drugs that can be given if the pregnancy is in the tubes and caught before there is a sign of a heartbeat.

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