Pregnancy Pukeology Podcast Episode 23: Ectopic Pregnancy Complications

What You Need to Know: Ectopic Pregnancy (AKA Tubal Pregnancy)

Ectopic pregnancies, also called tubal pregnancies, can be a serious pregnancy complication. Here we answer all your questions about them. What is an ectopic pregnancy? What causes a tubal pregnancy? We will even talk about the signs of ectopic pregnancy and treatment for an ectopic pregnancy. Plus, learn what factors could put you more at risk for an ectopic pregnancy. Read more about it right here or listen to our podcast (link at the bottom)!

What is an ectopic pregnancy? Can it be called a tubal pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy sometimes called a tubal pregnancy, is when the fertilized egg attaches to a place outside the uterus.  Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes, sometimes called the uterine tubes or oviducts. These tubes connect your ovaries to your uterus. In a normal pregnancy, the egg is fertilized in the fallopian tubes and then travels to the uterus and implants in the endometrium. Your uterus has plenty of space for a growing baby; however, the fallopian tubes do not.  Therefore, since the baby has implanted in the wrong place, it must be treated.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

    • Infection or inflammation of the fallopian tube (salpingitis) causing it to be partially or entirely blocked. STIs like gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause this. 
    • Scar tissue or adhesions from a previous abdominal or pelvic surgery, such as tubal surgery.
    • Abnormal growths or birth defects resulting in an abnormal tube shape.
    • Choice of birth control. Getting pregnant when you have an IUD (intrauterine device) or after having a tubal ligation, or “getting your tubes tied”, there’s a greater likelihood it will be ectopic.

    Ectopic Pregnancy Risk Factors

    • Previous ectopic pregnancy
    • Fertility treatments and/or Infertility
    • Smoking
    • Maternal age over 35
    • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
    • Several previous induced abortions
    • Endometriosis (when the tissue that normally lines your uterus is found outside of the uterus)

    Signs of Ectopic Pregnancy

      • LOW hCG levels for your gestational age. Check out the table below for estimated hCG levels based on how many weeks along you are. The doctors will also have reference values similar to these when they do your bloodwork.
      • Sharp or stabbing pain that comes and goes in varying intensity. Usually, you will feel it on one side of your pelvis. The pain can also be felt in your pelvis, abdomen, low back, shoulder and/or neck. ** If you experience extremely sharp pain lasting more than a few minutes, contact your doctor ASAP.
      • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
      • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting.
      • Gastrointestinal symptoms(i.e. diarrhea, vomiting, nausea) If you are experiencing these symptoms, check out our NoMo Nausea bands that are all-natural and stop nausea in seconds.

    *If you are feeling concerned that you are experiencing tubal pregnancy symptoms please see your doctor immediately because it is important to get it diagnosed ASAP.

    Gestational Age

    Expected hCG Values (mIU/mL)

    <1 Week

    5—50

    1-2 Weeks

    50—500

    2-3 Weeks

    100—5,000

    3-4 Weeks

    500—10,000

    4-5 Weeks

    1,000—50,000

    5-6 Weeks

    10,000—100,000

    6-8 Weeks

    15,000—200,000

    2-3 Months

    10,000—100,000

     

    How is an ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

    Your physician or OB/GYN can diagnose an ectopic pregnancy using ultrasound. They may also test your blood for the levels of a hormone called, hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) because LOW levels can be a sign. They may do a culdocentesis.  This is a procedure that inserts a needle into the space at the very top of the vagina behind the uterus and in front of the rectum (pouch of Douglas) to check for the presence of blood which can mean fallopian tube rupture. 

    How is an ectopic pregnancy treated?

    An ectopic pregnancy can be treated in 2 main ways, medication or surgery, but the most important thing is to catch it early. Treatment options include:

    Methotrexate

    This is a medication that functions as a folic acid antagonist. This means that it stops DNA synthesis, which stops the baby’s cell growth. A majority of women recover after being given a single intramuscular (IM) injection of methotrexate.  This allows your fallopian tube to be saved. However, this method is only recommended if the tube has NOT ruptured and the pregnancy is not well progressed (meaning the embryo is less than 3.5cm).

    Surgery WITH removal of the fallopian tube

    If the tube has become stretched beyond natural repair or has ruptured and is bleeding, emergency surgery is performed to get the bleeding to stop. Unfortunately, that often leads to a loss of that fallopian tube. This is called a salpingectomy. When only one fallopian tube is removed, it is called a unilateral salpingectomy.

    Surgery WITHOUT removal of the fallopian tube 

    This procedure can be done laparoscopically or through a traditional laparotomy. Laparoscopic surgery is where they can remove the ectopic pregnancy and repair the affected fallopian tube via the use of a camera. This involves a few small incisions around your abdomen that later often become nearly unnoticeable. A laparotomy may be chosen instead simply due to your unique situation. A laparotomy involves an incision along the abdomen. Both ways are suitable; however, given your situation, one may be preferred over another.

    Methotrexate Side Effects

    • Abdominal pain (most common)
    • Vaginal spotting
    • Nausea (Check out NoMo Nausea bands under the Products Tab to naturally cure nausea)
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Dizziness

    Also, while being treated with methotrexate AVOID:

    • Intense exercise
    • Sexual intercourse
    • Alcohol
    • Vitamins and foods with folic acid (fortified grains like cereal and bread, leafy greens, beans)
    • Extensive sun exposure
    • Prescriptions pain medications and NSAIDs (this includes Advil and Ibuprofen)

    AVOID

     

    Are there any chances of having a successful pregnancy after an ectopic pregnancy?  

    YES! If your fallopian tubes have been left in place, studies show you have a 65% chance of having a successful pregnancy within 18 months and an 85% chance within 2 years.

    Now you know tubal pregnancy symptoms, how an ectopic pregnancy is treated and what is an ectopic pregnancy. Remember, the most important this is to get diagnosed early. Luckily only 2% of pregnancies are ectopic and today fewer cases require surgery. If you want more information, leave us a comment and/or listen to our podcast by our CEO, Dr. Jaqueline Darna, below!

    Listen to "Ectopic Pregnancy Complications Episode 23 - Pregnant Pukeology Podcast" on Spreaker.
    May 21, 2019 by Maya Glander
    Tags: pregnancy
    Older Post / Newer Post

    Leave a comment

    Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.