The definition of the word ectopic is “an abnormal place or position.” An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. More than 90% of ectopic pregnancies occur within a fallopian tube. The danger of the fertilized egg implanting in a fallopian tube is that the tube cannot expand like the uterus to accommodate the growing embryo, so it is in danger of bursting.
Ectopic pregnancies are more common than you’d think. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, they occur in about 1 out of every 50 pregnancies (20 out of 1,000).
What Are the Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy?
Symptoms usually occur within the first few weeks of pregnancy, although some women never show any symptoms.
The earliest warning signs of ectopic pregnancy are:
- Light vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Abdominal pain
- Shoulder pain
- Heavy bleeding
- Extreme Lightheadedness
The unusual shoulder pain is associated with ectopic pregnancies because the blood leaking from the fallopian tube into the abdomen is thought to irritate the phrenic nerve, which is found in your diaphragm.
How Do I Know if I’m at Risk?
Some have a higher risk than others of an ectopic pregnancy. Read the list to see if any of them match your own pre-existing conditions:
- A previous ectopic pregnancy
- A history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Surgery on your fallopian tubes
- A history of infertility
- History of IVF treatments
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- An intrauterine device (IUD), a form of birth control, in place at the time of conception.
- A history of smoking
When to Seek Emergency Care
If you are pregnant and experiencing the above symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, especially the heavy bleeding, shoulder pain, or fainting. Don’t wait to confirm with an ultrasound, go ahead and seek emergency care to prevent further health complications.
Schedule an Ultrasound
The sooner you eliminate the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, the better. Pregnancy Help Center offers no-cost ultrasounds to give you visual confirmation of your pregnancy, eliminate health complications, and let you know how far along you are in your pregnancy. Schedule an appointment with our knowledgeable and compassionate staff today!