eptopic pregnancy Women's Health

Managing an Ectopic Pregnancy

When a doctor diagnoses a pregnancy complication like an ectopic pregnancy, it can be an incredibly stressful situation for an expectant mother. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg develops outside the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tubes. If an ectopic pregnancy is left untreated, it can critically impact the health of the mother and lead to fallopian tube damage, infertility, or death.

 

How Common Are Ectopic Pregnancies?

Jamie Hernandez, MD, an OB/GYN at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group Caritas Women’s Care in Sugar Land, treats a range of gynecologic health concerns including ectopic pregnancies. Though up to 1 in 50 pregnancies are ectopic, Dr. Hernandez says a majority of the women she sees do not have risk factors for ectopic pregnancy.

“More than 50 percent of my patients do not have any risk factors for an ectopic pregnancy,” she says.  

The risk factors for an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy

  • Pelvic or abdominal surgery

  • Endometriosis

  • Prior tubal surgery

  • Assisted reproductive technology

  • Smoking

  • Increased age

Monitoring Pregnancy When at Risk

If you’re at risk and trying to get pregnant, charting your ovulation can be a helpful tool for your doctor to detect early signs of an ectopic pregnancy. Knowing the early signs of pregnancy and important prenatal screenings will help you and your doctor monitor your health.  

What Are the Symptoms?

Possible symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Shoulder pain

  • Vaginal bleeding

  • Feeling dizzy or faint

If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical care right away.

Management Strategies for an Ectopic Pregnancy

Doctors can use expectant, medical, or surgical management for an ectopic pregnancy. The three surgical options include a salpingectomy (fallopian tube removal), salpingostomy (fallopian tube incision), or hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).

Cases of ectopic pregnancy are evaluated on an individual basis. Talk with your doctor to figure out which treatment option is right for you. Schedule an appointment with Caritas Women’s Care, an OB/GYN group that honors the sanctity of human life.



Sources:

Ectopic Pregnancy

Interventions for Tubal Ectopic Pregnancy

Pregnancy Complications

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