Patient Resources

Understanding Ectopic Pregnancies

An ectopic pregnancy happens when the fertilized egg attaches to a woman’s fallopian tube, abdominal cavity, or cervix instead of the uterus. While a pregnancy test may reveal a woman is pregnant, a fertilized egg cannot properly grow anywhere other than the uterus. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), ectopic pregnancies occur in about 1 out of every 50 pregnancies. An untreated ectopic pregnancy can cause serious complications for pregnant women if left untreated, including death. However, according to NCCRM fertility center Raleigh, prompt treatment reduces your risk of complications from the ectopic pregnancy, increases your chances for future, healthy pregnancies, and reduces future health complications.

Causes Of Ectopic Pregnancies

In healthy pregnancies, the egg and sperm meet in the woman’s fallopian tube, form an embryo, and then travel to the uterus to implant and grow. As mentioned above, in ectopic pregnancies, the embryo does not make it to the uterus and implants elsewhere. A common cause of ectopic pregnancy is an abnormality of the fallopian tube. When there are blockages, inflammation, or misshapen areas in the fallopian tube, the embryo can get stuck and implant in the wrong place. Another suspected cause is hormonal imbalance, specifically of estrogen. Other linked causes include genetic abnormalities, birth defects, and medical conditions that affect the shape and condition of the fallopian tubes and reproductive organs. 

Symptoms Related To Ectopic Pregnancies

While many symptoms of ectopic pregnancies overlap with those of healthy pregnancies, it is important to seek care if you are pregnant and experience any painful symptoms and/or weakness, including:

  • Cramping on one or both sides of the lower abdominal area
  • Shoulder pain
  • Weakness or dizziness when performing everyday tasks
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Missed period
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Levels of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) rising more slowly than expected

NCCRM Fertility Center Raleigh

If you have experienced an ectopic pregnancy and are worried about the future of your fertility, contact NCCRM fertility center Raleigh to discuss treatment options. If your fallopian tubes were not damaged, you have excellent chances of getting pregnant again. If your tubes were damaged or removed, you still have pregnancy options, so consult your NCCRM fertility specialist today.

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