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ALL about Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy
July 28, 2020
I know when you think about symptoms of ectopic pregnancy as a woman you may be either apprehensive or scared.
How can you tell if it’s an ectopic? When should you worry? When do ectopic pregnancy symptoms start?
Well, let’s have a look at just what ectopic pregnancy symptoms are in this article.
Ectopic pregnancy means a ‘misplaced’ pregnancy.
In other words, if you get pregnant and the pregnancy is located outside the womb, this is an ectopic pregnancy.
But why should you worry about it and when do symptoms of the condition begin?
This is because if not detected early, it could cause loss or damage to your reproductive organ like the fallopian tube.
Or it could contribute to problems having children in future.
In severe cases, it could cause death.
In this article, we talk more about how it can happen.
Any woman of reproductive age can have an ectopic pregnancy though it is more common in women aged 29 years and older.
In lower and middle-income countries like Nigeria, about 1-3% of pregnancies are located outside the womb.
This is according to a study from Southern Nigeria looking at cases of ectopic pregnancy seen in a teaching hospital over a five-year period.
In some cases, there are no symptoms.
But after it has grown to an extent, it will cause certain symptoms such as:
When the pregnancy is located in the womb, it continues to grow and increase in size, supported by hormones and blood from the womb.
However, if the pregnancy is growing in your tube, it does not get this support.
Your womb is very muscular and has lots of blood supply. Your tubes do not.
So as the pregnancy grows in your tube, it puts pressure on the tube.
This causes the pain you may experience.
The pressure also causes pain when you go to wee or open your bowels.
The abnormal location of the pregnancy can also cause abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge which could be a clue that something is not right.
The ectopic pregnancy means you may continue to have pregnancy symptoms like feeling sick or breast pain – but for a short period.
Early pregnancy symptoms like these happen because of the hormones produced by the ovaries and placenta.
This is interrupted by the fact the pregnancy is located outside the womb.
As it grows, it will eventually burst your tube causing bleeding.
The bleeding may be within your abdomen and may pass through the vagina.
If it is very heavy bleeding, it could may you feel light-headed or dizzy.
In severe cases, it could cause collapse, a medical emergency.
If not immediately treated, this could cause death. In all cases, a pregnancy outside the womb cannot survive.
Tubal Pregnancy means an ectopic pregnancy inside your (fallopian) tube.
It is the most common location for a pregnancy outside the womb.
The symptoms are similar to what would happen in pregnancy located anywhere else outside the womb.
More Reading – Pregnancy and Your Heart – Risks you should know
This might seem like a strange question. But actually it is quite important.
Because yes, it is possible to have a pregnancy located outside the womb and show no symptoms.
This could be during the period when the embryo is still very small.
So it is not yet able to cause you to have pressure symptoms that could lead to pain or burst the tube.
This is why a lot of cases are diagnosed with an ultrasound scan.
By doing so, it is possible to see the empty womb and the pregnancy located in an abnormal location.
So this brings us to when you can expect symptoms to show if the embryo is growing outside the womb.
If you have a regular period, by the time it is 2 weeks after your missed period, you are already about 6 weeks pregnant.
This is the stage at which many women may begin to experience abnormal symptoms.
However, some women may experience symptoms later; while others may do so earlier.
Therefore, you should know that these symptoms may occur from about 4 weeks to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
For a woman, it is important to know when abnormal symptoms may start in order to seek medical advice early on.
The chance of an ectopic pregnancy is greater in any of the following instances:
Early diagnosis and treatment of ectopic pregnancy increases the chance of saving the fallopian tube, and reducing any complications to your fertility.
If it is not treated, there is a risk of a lot more serious illness or death.
This is why it is important to learn all about the symptoms and when they may happen.
Read here to know more about how ectopic pregnancy is treated and diagnosed.
Odunvbun WO. Ectopic pregnancy: A 5-year review of cases in a secondary health facility in Delta State, Nigeria. Port Harcourt Med J 2019;13:53-7
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