Ectopic Pregnancy - Symptoms

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What are signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

The classic signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include:

  • abdominal pain,
  • the absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea), and
  • vaginal bleeding or intermittent bleeding (spotting).

The woman may not be aware that she is pregnant. These characteristic symptoms occur in ruptured ectopic pregnancies (those accompanied by severe internal bleeding) and non-ruptured ectopic pregnancies. However, while these symptoms are typical for an ectopic pregnancy, they do not mean an ectopic pregnancy is necessarily present and could represent other conditions. In fact, these symptoms also occur with a threatened abortion (miscarriage) in nonectopic pregnancies.

The signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy typically occur six to eight weeks after the last normal menstrual period, but they may occur later if the ectopic pregnancy is not located in the Fallopian tube. Other symptoms of pregnancy (for example, nausea and breast discomfort, etc.) may also be present in ectopic pregnancy. Weakness, dizziness, and a sense of passing out upon standing can (also termed near-syncope) be signs of serious internal bleeding and low blood pressure from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and require immediate medical attention. Unfortunately, as many as 15% to 20% of women with a bleeding ectopic pregnancy do not recognize they have symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. Their diagnosis is delayed until the woman shows signs of shock (for example, low blood pressure, weak and rapid pulse, pale skin and confusion) and often is brought to an emergency department; this situation is a medical emergency.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Meisgeier, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: March 13

I had no idea I was pregnant to begin with so on the last week of September when I thought I had started my period nothing seemed out of place. I started to notice something was wrong when my bleeding didn't stop, I went to the emergency room one night in mid-October because I started having extremely bad pain on the left side of my pelvis. That's when I found out not only was I pregnant but that I was possibly having an ectopic pregnancy. I saw my baby doctor the next day and that's when she said that I needed to have the methotrexate treatment because the embryo was in my left fallopian tube. I have one child and she was an emergency C section, my doctor said that the pelvic surgery could be what caused my ectopic pregnancy but we can't know for sure.

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Comment from: Mia, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: March 20

I found out I was pregnant about 2 weeks ago and was very happy! I have a son and had a normal pregnancy and birth with him. When I started spotting I knew something was wrong. My husband and I went to the emergency room (ER) and found out the baby was not in my uterus and that I had an ectopic pregnancy. I had been having pain in my lower stomach for a couple days but I assumed it was normal and was going to go see a doctor on my day off. Well I didn"t have to wait till then. I was given the methotrexate shot 2 days ago and have since still had pain and have not bled at all. I don"t know if anything is wrong but I know I will be back at the hospital later today. I was fortunate enough to catch it very early. I was only 5 weeks not yet 6 when I went into the ER. This hurt very much because my husband and I were trying to have another baby. But there is always hope that once all this is over we can work on having another one. I just hope I don"t have to have surgery.

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