An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy complication in which the embryo implants itself outside the uterine cavity in the womb. In a normal pregnancy, a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus and starts growing after travelling from through the fallopian tube.
In an ectopic pregnancy, the egg attaches itself outside the uterus and in most cases in the fallopian tube. This is why it is also referred to as tubal pregnancy. Unfortunately, when this happens, there is no way to save the pregnancy. The most important thing is be aware of ectopic pregnancy causes.
What are ectopic pregnancy causes?
This kind of pregnancy is mainly caused due to fallopian tube damage. Damaged fallopian tubes make it hard for a fertilized egg to pass through causing the egg to implant itself inside the tube. Other than this, there are other known causes of ectopic pregnancy. Below is an overview the most common causes of ectopic pregnancy.
Fallopian tube problems are the most common ectopic pregnancy causes. These tubes are about five to six inches in size with funnel shaped endings. Their main purpose is to transport eggs from the ovary to the womb. A damaged fallopian tube blocks this transportation preventing the egg from reaching the womb. Some of the common causes of fallopian tube damage are:
- Previous pelvic infections lining of the tubes.
- Use of intrauterine contraceptive devices.
- Endometriosis, which is a medical condition that makes uterine tissue to grow outside the womb and attach itself to some internal organs, also poses a risk. This can cause scarring on the fallopian tubes leading to damage.
Smoking is also one of the major ectopic pregnancy causes. This is known to increase the risk of getting an ectopic pregnancy by up to five times. This is because of the nicotine found in the cigarettes. Nicotine stimulates contractions of the fallopian tube which may cause spasms which mostly result to temporary blockage of the fallopian tubes. This prevents the egg from reaching the womb.
Surgery involving the reproductive system increases the risk of getting an ectopic pregnancy. In particular, if pregnancy occurs after an unsuccessful tubal sterilization, the risk of getting this pregnancy complication rises by 50%. If you have had any kind of surgery on the fallopian tubes and get pregnant, it is important to see your health care professional immediately.
Some mediations especially hormonal medications have been associated with ectopic pregnancies. They may alter the ability of the fallopian tubes to contract and squeeze the egg to the womb.
Symptoms and diagnosis
The most common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are pain and vaginal bleeding. Pain is mostly experienced in the abdomen, pelvis or in extreme cases on the neck or shoulder. The pain may be sharp and may concentrate on one side of the pelvis. Diagnosis of this pregnancy complication may at times be very hard as the symptoms are almost similar to a normal pregnancy. Diagnosis mainly involves a pelvic exam, a blood test to check the levels of the pregnancy hormone (hCG) and an ultra sound examination.
Once diagnosed with the complication, the only solution is to terminate the pregnancy. Be informed of ectopic pregnancy causes to ensure a safe pregnancy.