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Ectopic Pregnancy: When Embryos Need Directions

After investing so much time, energy, and money into fertility treatment, you would think embryos would come with a Garmin. Sadly, they don’t which is why ectopic pregnancies can occur.

An ectopic, or “out of place” pregnancy, is when an embryo implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes.

After a pregnancy is confirmed with a beta hCG blood pregnancy test and rises appropriately, your fertility doctor will ask you to return for an ultrasound between 6-8 weeks to look for a heartbeat. If a uterine pregnancy is not visible on ultrasound, but hCG levels continue to rise, your doctor will want to rule out an ectopic pregnancy.

Not everyone experiences severe pain as an indication of an ectopic pregnancy. Potential symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy can include:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • sharp or stabbing abdominal cramps
  • pain on one side of the body that may spread through your belly
  • dizziness, weakness, or fainting

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately. The most significant risks of an untreated ectopic are ruptured fallopian tubes and hemorrhaging. If the tube ruptures, it may have to be removed. If an ectopic pregnancy is detected early enough, methotrexate injections or laparoscopic surgery can help prevent loss of the fallopian tube.

You can achieve a successful pregnancy after an ectopic pregnancy. In fact, women with both fallopian tubes have a 60% chance of successful pregnancy in the future. Even with one fallopian tube, you can still get pregnant. In some cases, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is recommended to women with a history of ectopic pregnancy. IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes and transfers the embryo into the uterus. It is advised that you wait 3 to 6 months before trying to conceive after an ectopic pregnancy.

For advice and sharing experiences on ectopic pregnancy, visit our Fertile Thoughts Ectopic Pregnancy Forum.

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