min read

Ectopic pregnancies: what to do

While ectopic pregnancies are rare, affecting only 2% of pregnancies, early detection is critical. Recognising distinct symptoms in the initial stages can lead to timely medical intervention, ensuring the well-being of the mother.

Published on

June 1, 2024


Nadeen Daka

Share this post

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

After an egg is fertilized, it typically travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus and implants itself into the endometrium to initiate growth. However, in about 2% of pregnancy cases, this process is disrupted, and an ectopic pregnancy occurs instead. 

An ectopic pregnancy, also known as an extrauterine pregnancy, happens when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. It commonly occurs in the fallopian tube, but can also develop in the ovaries or lower part of the cervix. 

Ectopic pregnancies are medical emergencies that almost always lead to pregnancy loss. This is because the placenta cannot access an adequate blood supply, and the fertilized egg lacks the proper space and support to grow. As it develops, the egg can burst and rupture the fallopian tube, causing severe internal bleeding (haemorrhage) and posing a life-threatening risk to the mother. 

How to know if you're experiencing it?

The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy usually develop between the 4th and 12th week of the gestation period. While the beginning may resemble normal signs of pregnancy, women with an ectopic pregnancy may later begin to experience painful cramps, vaginal bleeding, and sudden pain in the lower abdomen. 

Anyone can have an ectopic pregnancy, but they are more commonly found in women who have pelvic infections, endometriosis, or a history of inflammation in their fallopian tubes, which hinder the movement of the fertilized egg. Additionally, women aged 35 or older and those who conceived through assisted reproductive methods face increased risk. 

What to do if you have an ectopic pregnancy?

Due to how dangerous ectopic pregnancies are, they are screened for through ultrasounds and blood tests at pregnancy appointments. If they occur, a medication known as methotrexate is taken to terminate the pregnancy. However, if not detected in time, there is a risk of the tube rupturing and haemorrhage, necessitating emergency laparoscopic surgery to remove the embryo and repair or remove the affected fallopian tube. 

Get a demo

Attract and retain top female talent, elevate company performance and improve DE&I metrics with Womco ‘s solution today!