Ectopic pregnancy is a common, life-threatening condition that affects 1 in 80 pregnancies. Put very simply, it means “an out-of-place pregnancy”. It occurs when a woman’s ovum (egg), that has been fertilised, implants (gets stuck somewhere) instead of moving successfully down her fallopian tube into the womb to develop there. The most common place for an ectopic pregnancy is the fallopian tube but there are many other sites where an ectopic pregnancy can be located. It is, sadly, not possible to move an ectopic pregnancy. 1.What is an ectopic pregnancy?2.Reasons for an ectopic pregnancy3.Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy4.Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy5.Treating an ectopic pregnancy6.Your body after an ectopic pregnancy7.Your emotions after an ectopic pregnancy8.Trying to conceive after an ectopic pregnancy9.Dads and ectopic pregnancy10. Herbal treatment before and after anectopic pregnancy?
1.What is an ectopic pregnancy?
Ectopic pregnancy is a common, life-threatening condition that affects 1 in 80 pregnancies. Put very simply, it means “an out-of-place pregnancy”. It occurs when a woman’s ovum (egg), that has been fertilised, implants (gets stuck somewhere) instead of moving successfully down her fallopian tube into the womb to develop there. The most common place for an ectopic pregnancy is the fallopian tube but there are many other sites where an ectopic pregnancy can be located. It is, sadly, not possible to move an ectopic pregnancy.Each month, before a woman has her period, one of her ovaries produces an ovum that is drawn into one of the fine finger-like tubes called fimbriae, passes through it, and is deposited into the end of the fallopian tube. The ovum then makes its way towards the womb. During the course of this journey it may encounter a man’s sperm, in which case it becomes fertile.If it is fertilised, the ovum implants itself into the special lining of the womb (renewed each month) called the endometrium and becomes a baby. If it is not fertilised, then both ovum and lining are discharged in the menstrual flow (period), a fresh lining is prepared and a new ovum begins to ripen within the ovary.In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the fimbriae can fail to catch the ovum so the ovum becomes fertilised outside the reproductive system or, more commonly, the fertilised ovum becomes caught while progressing down the fallopian tube. In this case, the baby continues to grow inside the tube where it can cause the tube to burst or otherwise severely damage it. In either case, a serious medical condition is likely to develop, requiring immediate attention.The diagram shows where ectopic pregnancies are most likely to occur:
- 80% are Ampullary (in the upper part of the fallopian tube)
- 12% are Isthmic (in the lower part of the fallopian tube)
- 5% are Fimbrial (caught in the fimbriae)
- 2% are Interstitial/Cornual (inside the uterus but outside the cavity)
- 1.4% are Abdominal (in the abdomen)
- 0.2% are Ovarian (in or on the ovary)
- 0.2% are Cervical (on the Cervix)
2.Reasons for an ectopic pregnancy
Any sexually active woman of childbearing age is at risk of an ectopic pregnancy and often the reason for the ectopic pregnancy will never be determined. However, ectopic pregnancies are more likely if you have had:
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: This is a past infection of the fallopian tubes caused, for example, by a sexually transmitted infection like Chlamydia.
- Endometriosis: This is a condition where cells like the ones lining the womb grow elsewhere in the body but still react to the menstrual cycle each month and bleed despite there being no way for the blood to leave the body. This can cause damage to the fallopian tubes.
- Abdominal Surgery: Any previous operation on the tummy, such as caesarean section, appendectomy or previous ectopic pregnancy.
- Tubal Surgery: An operation on the fallopian tubes, such as sterilisation.
- A contraceptive coil (IUCD): The coil prevents a pregnancy in the uterus but is less effective in preventing a pregnancy in the fallopian tube.
- The ‘mini-pill’ (progesterone-only pill): This type of contraceptive pill alters the motility of the tube i.e. the ability for an egg to move through it.
- The Morning After Pill: It is possible to become pregnant in the same cycle after trying to prevent pregnancy with emergency oral contraception.
- Fertility Treatment: There is a chance of ectopic pregnancy resulting from embryo transfer during IVF treatment as embryos can travel into the fallopian tube, for example, during the implantation stage.
- A previous ectopic pregnancy: There is an increased risk of a subsequent ectopic pregnancy after someone has experienced an ectopic pregnancy.
- Cigarette Smoking: Research by the University of Edinburgh showed that smokers have an increased level of the protein PROKR1 in their fallopian tubes. The protein is instrumental in helping pregnancies implant in the womb, but when present in the fallopian tubes can hinder the progress of a fertilised egg, increasing the chances of a pregnancy being ectopic.