Table of Contents
- Ectopic pregnancy facts
- What is the definition of an ectopic pregnancy?
- What is an ectopic pregnancy?
- Three classic signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy
- What are other signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?
- What are risk factors for ectopic pregnancy?
- What are other risk factors for ectopic pregnancy?
- Is there a test to diagnose ectopic pregnancy?
- Is an ectopic pregnancy dangerous?
- What treatment options are available for ectopic pregnancy?
Quick GuideConception: The Amazing Journey from Egg to Embryo
What are risk factors for ectopic pregnancy?
- Age: Ectopic pregnancy can occur in any woman, of any age, who is ovulating and is sexually active with a male partner. The highest likelihood ectopic pregnancy occurs in women aged 35-44 years.
- History: The greatest risk factor for an ectopic pregnancy is a prior history of an ectopic pregnancy.
- Fallopian tube abnormalities: Any disruption of the normal architecture of the Fallopian tubes can be a risk factor for a tubal pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy in other locations.
- Previous gynecological surgeries: Previous surgery on the Fallopian tubes such as tubal sterilization or reconstructive, procedures can lead to scarring and disruption of the normal anatomy of the tubes and increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
- Infection: Infection in the pelvis (pelvic inflammatory disease) is another risk factor for ectopic pregnancy. Pelvic infections are usually caused by sexually-transmitted organisms, such as Chlamydia or N. gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that cause gonorrhea. However, non-sexually transmitted bacteria can also cause pelvic infection and increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Infection causes an ectopic pregnancy by damaging or obstructing the Fallopian tubes. Normally, the inner lining of the Fallopian tubes is coated with small hair-like projections called cilia. These cilia are important to transport the egg smoothly from the ovary through the Fallopian tube and into the uterus. If these cilia are damaged by infection, egg transport becomes disrupted. The fertilized egg can settle in the Fallopian tube without reaching the uterus, thus becoming an ectopic pregnancy. Likewise, infection-related scarring and partial blockage of the Fallopian tubes can also prevent the egg from reaching the uterus.