An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which the egg is fertilized and develops outside of the uterus. Typically this occurs in the fallopian tubes, and thus are referred to as tubal pregnancies. An ectopic pregnancy may also occur in the ovary itself. An ectopic pregnancies can not develop normally. This is because only the uterus contains the space and nutrient rich tissues that are required to nurture a fetus. Because the ovaries and fallopian tubes are very narrow, a developing pregnancy can cause a rupture. A ruptured tube can produce severe bleeding and can be life threatening.
Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:
– Abdominal or pelvic pain.
– A missed period.
– Signs of early pregnancy.
– Vaginal bleeding not caused by menstruation.
– Dizziness or fainting.
– Low blood pressure when bleeding is severe.
If you have these symptoms and think you may have an ectopic pregnancy, you should contact your physician immediately. He will likely perform a pelvic exam to determine whether your uterus is enlarged (which would indicate a regular pregnancy. He may also test hormone levels in the blood, as the hormone hCG will be lower in an ectopic pregnancy than in a normal one. He may also perform an ultrasound to determine where exactly the pregnancy lies.