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An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus. It is a life-threatening condition that you should seek medical treatment for immediately. 

If you’re unexpectedly pregnant, Choose Hope Women’s Center offers free and confidential ultrasounds to confirm whether or not you have a viable pregnancy and not ectopic. Schedule an appointment today. Or continue reading for more information.

Diagnosis of an Ectopic Pregnancy

In cases of ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo grows outside the uterus, the pregnancy cannot proceed normally and demands urgent medical attention beyond the scope of an abortion.

If you are pregnant, it’s crucial to undergo an ultrasound as a next step. This safe imaging procedure helps identify where the embryo has implanted, a critical factor in detecting or excluding an ectopic pregnancy. 

Moreover, ultrasound plays a vital role in estimating the gestational age of the pregnancy (how far along you are). This information is particularly important if you are contemplating abortion, as certain methods, such as the abortion pill, are only approved for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy according to FDA guidelines.

Symptoms & Risk Factors

You may not notice any symptoms at all at first. Regular pregnancy signs may be present, such as a missed period, breast tenderness, and nausea.  The first warning signs will be light vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain. 

As the embryo grows, you might notice shoulder pain or the urge to go to the bathroom more frequently. Heavy bleeding inside the abdomen is likely. Symptoms of this life-threatening event include extreme lightheadedness, fainting, and shock.

Because of the severity, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Some things that make you more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy are:

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy: If you’ve had this type of pregnancy before, you’re more likely to have another.
  • Inflammation or infection: Sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, can cause inflammation in the tubes and other nearby organs and increase your risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Fertility treatments: Some research suggests that women who have in vitro fertilization (IVF) or similar treatments are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy. Infertility itself may also raise your risk.
  • Tubal surgery: Surgery to correct a closed or damaged fallopian tube can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Choice of birth control: The chance of getting pregnant while using an intrauterine device (IUD) is rare. However, if you do get pregnant with an intrauterine device (IUD) in place, it’s more likely to be ectopic. Tubal ligation, or “having your tubes tied,” also raises your risk if you become pregnant after this procedure.
  • Smoking: Smoking just before you get pregnant can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. The more you smoke, the greater the risk.

What You Can Do Next

The best measure you can take against an ectopic pregnancy is to confirm your pregnancy with testing and an ultrasound. This will help you more fully understand your options, as well as confirm key details such as the presence of a heartbeat and the gestational age of your pregnancy.  

If you’re unsure where you are in your pregnancy journey, Choose Hope Women’s Center is a great place to start. We’re here to answer all your questions and offer you these services for free. Contact us today.

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