Ectopic pregnancy refers to a fertilized egg that implants somewhere outside of the uterus. This is generally in the fallopian tube and is sometimes referred to as a tubal pregnancy. Certain women are at a higher risk for having an ectopic pregnancy than others.
An ectopic pregnancy can start out just like a normal pregnancy. You may have a positive pregnancy test, miss your period or have other normal pregnancy symptoms. Then again, you may not have a positive pregnancy test and you should seek immediate medical help if you experience any of the ectopic pregnancy symptoms.
Many women first experience abdominal pain that can be tender to the touch, sharp or sudden, persistent or intermittent, or it could be fairly mild. Symptoms can have a wide range from person to person. Some women only have pain on one side while others have it in their entire abdomen or pelvis.
Vomiting or nausea can occur. Spotting or vaginal bleeding is also normal. Pain generally gets more severe if you are active, sneezing, coughing or laughing.
If your fallopian tube has ruptured, then you could be in immediate life-threatening danger and you should call 911 immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms. Pain in your shoulder, especially when you lie down can be caused by internal bleeding. Lying down can wash the pooling blood up to your shoulder and put pressure on the nerves, causing pain.
This is a real emergency and you may not have much time to get medical help. Do not delay in calling 911 and never attempt to drive yourself if you experience this type of pain. You may go into shock and experience a weak or fast pulse. Your skin could become pale and clammy. You can get dizzy and find it hard to balance. You can feel faint or actually pass out. Any of these symptoms should tell you that you are in immediate danger and you should get help without delay.
Your chances of having an ectopic pregnancy are higher if you have an IUD, have had a previous ectopic pregnancy, if you have had any type of surgery in or around your fallopian tubes, if you have had a cesarean section or other abdominal surgery or if you have had any type of pelvic infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, chlamydia or gonorrhea. Any surgeries or infections can make scar tissue grow in your fallopian tubes trapping a fertilized egg. IUD's and progestin-only birth control pills can make your uterus inhospitable to fertilized eggs and they may implant in your fallopian tube instead.
If you are at a higher risk for ectopic pregnancy, be very mindful of the symptoms so that you can seek medical help at the slightest signs of a problem.