Everything You Need To Know About An Ectopic Pregnancy

Nothing is quite as terrible as having to go through an ectopic pregnancy. You go in for a happy sonogram thinking you are going to have a child only to suddenly find out the child is growing in the wrong spot, you have your HcG levels checked to verify it’s a baby and they check out correct… but then the physician or doctor tells you it’s a tubal baby, and your chances of living to see it through are less than 1%, so you end up taking some medication to flush the fetus out over 3 days or worse… you end up in the ER having surgery to remove the baby.

You are not alone, ectopic pregnancies are common, and you can still have a child afterwards, even if both of your tubes were removed, there are plenty of women in the world who had 1, 2, 3 or 4+ children with only one tube or no tubes at all. You will be OK. It is not the end.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is when a baby is growing in the wrong spot, often called a tubal baby or tubal pregnancy because the baby is growing in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

What percentage of women have an ectopic pregnancy?

It can be anywhere from 1% or 2% of all pregnancies, or about 1 in 50 or 1 in 100.

You are not alone, there are support groups under Facebook Groups, see this Ectopic Pregnancy Support Group

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

There is no known cause for an ectopic pregnancy. It is an accident and no one is to blame or at fault. Unless your fallopian tubes were previously damaged or inflamed, such as a previous surgery or scar tissue in that area, then it was simply an accidental attachment of the fertilized egg to the tube wall instead of the uterus wall.

Is a tubal pregnancy dangerous?

Yes. Around 10% of the women who go without treating an ectopic pregnancy do not survive.

Who is at risk for ectopic pregnancy?

All women. All women are at risk for an ectopic pregnancy, it’s simply a misfire of the pregnancy process. The fertilized egg has to travel through the fallopian tube to get to the uterus, sometimes it gets attached to the tube before it makes it to the uterus. There is no known cause unless your fallopian tubes were previously damaged or inflamed, such as a previous surgery or scar tissue in that area.

See the diagram below. Eventually the tube will burst and cause internal bleeding, resulting in a visit to the ER or if left untreated, possibly causing the death of both the mother and the baby.

Ectopic_pregnancy_diagram tube baby

How long can a baby grow in the fallopian tube?

At about 5 weeks, if it is a baby and your HcG levels are high, you will feel the pregnancy but also feel an unusual amount of pressure that turns into a dull pain, as the baby grows, the pain will get worse.

There are extremely rare occurrences of women carrying a baby to term with it growing in their tube, the baby will continue to grow like a normal baby would. However as it grows in the tube, eventually the tube will bust, which will cause internal bleeding and a great amount of pain, likely resulting in death for both the baby and the mother.

Is an ectopic pregnancy a real baby?

With a sonogram and HcG level test, it can be determined whether or not you actually have a baby growing in your tube or not. And yes, it is a real baby, though not fully formed.

Can you carry an ectopic pregnancy to term?

The chance of you surviving, and the baby surviving, is about 1 in a million or less. Even with real close supervision and treatment, the chances are so low it’s not worth the risk.

How do you treat an ectopic pregnancy?

If caught early enough, an ectopic pregnancy is treatable with medication, a medicine called methotrexate. It is a medication that stops the fetus from growing. It takes 1-3 days to fully flush the fetus and may cause some mild discomfort. Medication is the best way to go. If the fetus is left to grow too long, surgery may be required.

What are the chances of getting pregnant after ectopic pregnancy?

Most women who have an ectopic pregnancy and were actually trying to get pregnant, are pregnant again within about a year. Make sure you stay healthy, don’t smoke, don’t drink excessively and try eat whole foods. Get regular exercise. Follow the after care instructions so your tubes heal and stay strong.

About The Ectopic Surgery

It’s not life threatening, you are going to survive and it happens to thousands of women. The procedure take about 30-45 minutes, you are put to sleep during the operation and usually up and walking again in 2-3 days, some women go home after the operation, some require a little extra attention and stay in the hospital 1-3 nights for supervision. The scar will heal and as time goes on become less and less visible.

What happens after an ectopic pregnancy?

You are going to be sad, the first week will be very hard and you will feel like something is missing. You’ll be in the grocery store looking at the shelves and suddenly burst out in tears, your emotions will run on high and you may be angry, or sad, for no apparent reason for a couple months after. You are not alone.

Can I have sex after an ectopic pregnancy operation?

You will have to wait about 1-2 months for your wounds to be completely healed. It is not safe to lift anything over 8 lbs or have intercourse for about 2 months.

About Rock Ridge Family Medicine in Wichita

Here at Rock Ridge Family Medicine in Wichita, we have a great family planning physician and doctor, along with a range of help for women’s health issues.