Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg (embryo) implants outside of the uterus in another area of the body and grows. It is a non-viable pregnancy that requires immediate treatment to prevent life-threatening complications.
Why Are Ectopic Pregnancies Dangerous?
The uterus is the only organ in the body designed for carrying a pregnancy. It can stretch from the size of a lemon to the size of a watermelon during pregnancy. Other structures in the body can’t do that, so a growing ectopic pregnancy can cause damage.
The most common place for an ectopic pregnancy to attach is in the fallopian tube. This type of pregnancy is called a “tubal pregnancy.” It often happens due to the egg becoming stuck in the fallopian tube due to inflammation or being misshapen. Hormonal balances or irregular fertilized egg development potentially play a role as well.
An ectopic pregnancy growing inside the fallopian tube can cause the tube to rupture, triggering major internal bleeding. In this case, a woman would need emergency treatment.
Thankfully, ultrasound technology enables health professionals to identify and treat such pregnancies before they turn life-threatening.
How Common Are Ectopic Pregnancies?
About 1 in 50 pregnancies (2%) are ectopic. While this doesn’t seem like a large number, it’s critical to screen for it just in case.
Some women are more likely to have ectopic pregnancies due to the following risk factors.
- Previous ectopic pregnancy
- Inflammation or infection, such as from an STI
- Fertility treatments
- Tubal surgery to correct a closed or damaged fallopian tube
- Choice of birth control (IUD and tubal ligation)
How Do You Prevent an Ectopic Pregnancy?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent such a pregnancy. You can decrease general risk by preventing STIs and quitting smoking, especially if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Beyond those steps, the best strategy for preventing life-threatening complications (though the risk is small) is early detection. Getting an ultrasound early in pregnancy can make sure your pregnancy is located inside the uterus, and seeking treatment if it is ectopic.
Pregnancy Confirmation at Crystal Women’s Clinic
Schedule a no-cost pregnancy confirmation appointment at our clinic. We will provide pregnancy testing and an ultrasound to identify key pregnancy details, including the location.
While we do not diagnose ectopic pregnancy, we will refer you for further medical care if there’s reason to believe this could be possible. Book an appointment today!