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Ectopic pregnancy

Posted by Corey Whelan on with 0 Comments

by Corey Whelan

For any woman hoping to conceive, the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy can be  devastating.  An ectopic is a non-viable type of pregnancy which  refers to the implantation of an embryo outside of the uterus and never results  in a live birth.

Ectopic pregnancies account for around 2% of all conceptions in  the U.S., or one in 40-100 pregnancies.  While relatively rare,  ectopic pregnancies are always dangerous and cannot continue to term; 9% of all pregnancy-related deaths are a result of this  diagnosis.

Ectopic pregnancies are typically caused by blocked or damaged  fallopian tubes.  In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg is stopped from  traveling through the fallopian tube into the uterus, where it would normally  implant and begin to grow.  Fallopian tubes cannot support the growth  and development of a healthy embryo and, if the embryo is not removed,  will rupture.

Tubal damage is often caused by pelvic inflammatory disease  resulting from untreated or undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections (STI's)  such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. It can also result from endometriosis,  appendicitis, or prior pelvic surgery.  Occasionally, an ectopic pregnany  will occur after a tubal ligation (tying your tubes) or the  removal of an IUD device.  Sometimes, the cause remains  unknown.  Women who have undergone an ectopic pregnancy have a  greater risk that it will happen again at a later time.  In vitro  fertilization also increases this risk to a small extent.

Symptoms include some of the typical markers of pregnancy, such as missed  periods, tender breasts, and nausea.  In addition, ectopic pregnancy  may also present with pain in the lower back, pelvis and/or abdomen and  cramping.  If your pregnancy has been diagnosed and you are under a  doctor's care, a blood test will indicate early, abnormal levels of hCG, or  human chorionic gonadotropin and low levels of progesterone.  An ultrasound  can also show the abnormal implantation of the embryo.  Sometimes an  outpatient-surgical procedure called a laparoscopy will be required to confirm  the diagnosis.

If the ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed and a tubal rupture takes  place, symptoms will escalate to include fainting or feeling faint, intense  feelings of pressure in the rectum, pain in the shoulder and severe pain in the  abdomen.  This requires an immediate visit to an emergency room.  If  you suspect that you are in this situation, call 911 immediately and remain warm  with your legs elevated to alleviate symptoms of shock.

When diagnosed early, a non-surgical treatment utilizing a drug called methotraxcate can be used.  The medication is  administered via injection and is effective in destroying ectopic pregnancy  tissue.  In more advanced cases, laparoscopy is utilized to treat as  well as diagnose the situation.  If a rupture has occured, major types of  surgery such as laparotomy  or salpingectomy will be required.  Any protocol deemed  appropriate to end this non-viable type of pregnancy should not be confused with  abortion. 

Ectopic pregnancy may be rare statistically but you don't want it to  happen to you, if you can avoid it.  You can reduce your risk by using  condoms when you are not trying to get pregnant, in order to lessen the  possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.  If you  suspect you have an STI, see a doctor immediately and make sure that both you  and any sexual partner you have receive treatment for the infection.   Keeping in mind that STI's are often asymptomatic, make sure that you get tested  on a regular basis as well.  And, if you are trying to conceive or  suspect that you are pregnant, it is good common sense to seek medical support  sooner rather than later, in order in ensure the best possible outcome for both  you and your baby.

Printed with permission from Examiner.com

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