Ectopic Pregnancy - What are Signs, Symptoms and Causes?

Ectopic Pregnancy - Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Test, Treatment, Cost, and Risk Factors

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants and develops outside the uterus while in normal pregnancies the fertilized egg implants and develops in the uterus. Implantation can occur in fallopian tubes, cervix, ovaries, or within the abdomen. Most of the ectopic pregnancies (approximately 90%) occur in the fallopian tubes which are known as Tubal Pregnancies. When the fertilized egg implants in the cervix it is referred to as Cervical Pregnancy and when the fertilized egg implants in the abdomen it is referred to as Abdominal Pregnancy.

Signs and causes of Ectopic pregnancy

What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Ectopic Pregnancy is a complication pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. The fertilized egg can implant in fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, or within the abdomen. None of these areas has so much space and nurturing tissue for an embryo to develop as compared to the uterus. When the fetus develops, as a result, it will burst that organ which contains it which can cause severe bleeding as well as endanger the life of the mother. Ectopic Pregnancy can lead to the rupture of fallopian tubes which can cause severe pain with or without bleeding. 

Ectopic Pregnancy signs and symptoms

To diagnose ectopic pregnancy is difficult as the early symptoms are similar to the early symptoms and signs of normal pregnancy which include :

Early signs of Ectopic Pregnancy 

  • Missed Period
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Breast Tenderness

The first most common warning signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include :

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Shoulder or neck pain
  • Rectum pain
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Pain on one side of the body
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Ectopic Pregnancy Causes

One of the common cause of ectopic pregnancy could be a damaged fallopian tube which prevents the fertilized egg from getting into the uterus and implant it in the fallopian tube or somewhere else such as cervix, ovary or within the abdomen. The fallopian tube can become partially or entirely blocked due to an infection or inflammation due to which it prevents the fertilized egg from getting inside the uterus. Some other causes of ectopic pregnancy due to which you can have an ectopic pregnancy are the following :

  • Sexually Transmitted Disease
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Use of fertility drugs
  • Unsuccessful Tubal ligation
  • Use of an Intrauterine Device (IUD)
  • Previous surgery in the pelvic area.
  • A previous history of an Ectopic Pregnancy.
  • Scar tissue from the previous surgical procedure or infection on the fallopian tube.

Ectopic Pregnancy diagnosis

Your doctor will perform some tests including a pelvic exam and an ultrasound to diagnose ectopic pregnancy. A pelvic exam is performed to locate pain and tenderness in the abdomen. An ultrasound is also performed to determine whether the uterus contains a developing fetus or not. The levels of HCG will also be measured. The lower levels of HCG can also be one of the reasons to suspect an Ectopic Pregnancy.

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Ectopic Pregnancy test

Ectopic Pregnancy is detected by a blood test for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) and Ultrasound. 

Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment

The treatment of an ectopic pregnancy usually depends on the size and location of the pregnancy. A fertilized egg is unable to survive outside the uterus so it's essential to remove the ectopic tissue to avoid serious complications. There are two methods of treating an Ectopic Pregnancy :

Ectopic Pregnancy Medication / Ectopic pregnancy methotrexate

Early ectopic pregnancy can be treated with an injection of Methotrexate. This injection stops the growth of the cells and allows the body to absorb pregnancy tissues. If an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed early and fallopian tubes haven't ruptured then it can be treated with Methotrexate. 

Ectopic pregnancy Surgery

But if the ectopic pregnancy is farther along then a surgery is needed to remove the Ectopic pregnancy. Surgeries can be performed in two ways to remove an ectopic pregnancy. 

Ectopic pregnancy laparoscopic surgery

During laparoscopic surgery, your doctor will make small incisions or cuts in your lower part of the abdomen or near the belly button (Umbilicus) and insert a thin and flexible telescope-like instrument (known as Laparoscope and it contains a fiber-optic light and a camera) to remove an ectopic pregnancy. Laparoscopy is also known as Key-hole surgery. Your doctor may remove or intact your fallopian tube but it will totally depend on the damage to the affected fallopian tube. 


If you're bleeding heavily or there is a lot of damage in the tube then the affected fallopian tube will be removed.


If the tube is damaged minimal then the ectopic tissue will be removed from the tube by making a small cut leaving the affected tube intact. 

Ectopic pregnancy laparotomy surgery

If your fallopian tube is ruptured and you're bleeding heavily or if severe internal bleeding is suspected then you'll need an emergency surgery which is performed by making large incisions in your lower abdomen. It is known as Laparotomy. Laparotomy is also known as Open Surgery

Ectopic pregnancy Methotrexate treatment cost

The cost of Methotrexate treatment for an ectopic pregnancy ranged from $450 to $1400.

Ectopic pregnancy surgery cost

The cost of surgery for an ectopic pregnancy ranged from $2500 to $3000.

Risk factors for an Ectopic Pregnancy 

Any woman can have ectopic pregnancy but the risk is higher for the women who have had :

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Maternal age over 35 years.
  • Previous pelvic or abdominal surgery.
  • Conceiving after having a tubal ligation.
  • Prior Tubal Surgery
  • History of infertility
  • Intrauterine Surgery
  • Endometriosis
  • Smoking
  • Medication to stimulate ovulation or undergoing fertility treatments.
  • Surgery on a Fallopian tube
  • Previous Ectopic Pregnancy

After an Ectopic Pregnancy treatment

After an ectopic pregnancy treatment process if your fallopian tube isn't removed then you have to go through weekly blood tests to monitor HCG levels as they decrease and to ensure that ectopic pregnancy is fully resolved. HCG levels will be re-checked on a regular basis until it reaches zero to ensure that ectopic pregnancy is fully resolved now. 

Successful pregnancy after an Ectopic Surgery

The chances of having a successful pregnancy may be reduced after an Ectopic surgery but it will totally depend on the reasons for previous ectopic pregnancy and medical history of women. If your fallopian tubes are not removed then there are approximately 65% chances of having a successful pregnancy in the future. Your chances of conceiving after an ectopic pregnancy depends on the health of your fallopian tubes. 

If you're pregnant and experiencing any signs and symptoms of Ectopic pregnancy then call your doctor immediately as it's essential to detect an ectopic pregnancy as soon as possible so that you can get proper treatment. 

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Disclaimer: This content is intended for general information only and it should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. The given content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment, or any diagnosis. Always consult a doctor for more information. Our website doesn't claim responsibility for this information.

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