What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?


The term "ectopic pregnancy" is something you may have heard of, but you might not know what it means and if you should be worried about it. It is important to know the signs and seek care by a licensed OB/GYN before determining what steps you should take regarding your pregnancy.

Pregnancy is caused by a fertilized egg. This egg is carried through the fallopian tube and attaches itself to your uterus where it can grow and develop. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg is not implanted in the uterus but outside of it. Sometimes an ectopic pregnancy is referred to as a "tubal pregnancy," because of the inadequate transition of the egg from the fallopian tubes into the lining of the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies can occur in other parts of the body, like in an ovary, your abdominal cavity, or the cervix.

An ectopic pregnancy is not a viable pregnancy. This means that your pregnancy will not proceed as a normal one. The egg cannot survive outside the uterus, and if left without medical care, it may cause life-threatening bleeding.

Early Signs

According to the Mayo Clinic, "often, the first warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy are light vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain." If you have taken a positive pregnancy test and are experiencing either of these symptoms, you should let your medical provider know.

Emergency Symptoms

If left unchecked and the egg continues growing outside the uterus, the tube can rupture and cause heavy bleeding inside your abdomen. If you experience major lightheadedness, fainting, shoulder pain, or shock, call your medical provider immediately.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy, however, you can decrease your risk by limiting your sexual partners, using a condom during sex to prevent STDs, and, if you smoke, quitting as soon as possible.

If you are considering an abortion, it is vital that you know whether or not you have a viable pregnancy (one inside the uterus that will continue developing). An ectopic pregnancy is not a viable pregnancy and cannot develop. The earlier you seek medical care regarding your pregnancy, the sooner you will be able to take the steps necessary to ensure your pregnancy is safe and healthy.

Questions? Give us a call: 304-344-4511

Resource found at:

Mayo Clinic, "Ectopic Pregnancy." https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/symptoms-causes/syc-20372088 


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