What’s an Ectopic Pregnancy?
Q: What’s an Ectopic Pregnancy?
A: From Dr. Lisa
- Ectopic pregnancy (ek-top-ic) is a potentially life threatening condition in which a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus—most often in the fallopian tubes. This is why it is sometimes called a “tubal” pregnancy.
- If an embryo is growing in one of your tubes instead of inside the uterus, you will need to seek emergency care. Don’t wait, go to the ER!
- Symptoms may include cramping and pain in your abdomen which will increase and become very severe. (If you’ve taken a morning after pill and have these symptoms 3-4 weeks after using it, you need to see a doctor.)
- Ectopic pregnancy occurs at a rate of about 1-2% of pregnancies and can occur in any sexually active woman of reproductive age. The increase in incidence in the past few decades is thought to be due to higher rates of STD infection and increased number of sexual partners.
- PID, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is one risk factor for a pregnancy that grows in the tubes. Pelvic infections are usually caused by sexually-transmitted organisms, such as chamydia or N. gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that cause gonorrhea. However, non-sexually transmitted bacteria can also cause pelvic infection and increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Infection causes an ectopic pregnancy by damaging or obstructing the Fallopian tubes.
- Because having multiple sexual partners increases a woman’s risk of pelvic infections, multiple sexual partners also are associated with an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Bottom Line: If you have severe cramping and abdominal pain and suspect that you are pregnant, go to the ER. If you are sexually active, visit us soon for STD screening and pregnancy testing.