Can An Ectopic Pregnancy Survive
Not in a tubal ectopic pregnancy, as the Fallopian tube cant stretch enough to allow the embryo to grow. If untreated, the tube may rupture and this needs to be dealt with urgently.
A non-tubal ectopic may have more room for the embryo to grow but it is extremely unlikely to survive without causing serious harm to the mother. There is also no way to transfer an ectopic pregnancy safely to the uterus.
If there is a twin pregnancy, with one ectopic and one in the right place, the uterine pregnancy may survive, but the ectopic one will need to be treated if it doesnt resolve naturally.
Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
- What is ectopic pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnanciesmore than 90%occur in a fallopian tube. As the pregnancy grows, it can cause the tube to burst . A rupture can cause major internal bleeding. This can be a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate surgery.
- What are the risk factors for ectopic pregnancy?
The risk factors for ectopic pregnancy include the following:
Previous ectopic pregnancy
Other factors that may increase a womans risk of ectopic pregnancy include:
Age older than 35 years
History of infertility
About one half of all women who have an ectopic pregnancy do not have known risk factors. Sexually active women should be alert to changes in their bodies, especially if they experience symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy.
At first, an ectopic pregnancy may feel like a typical pregnancy with some of the same signs, such as a missed menstrual period, tender breasts, or an upset stomach. Other signs may include:
Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Mild pain in the abdomen or pelvis
Mild cramping on one side of the pelvis
At this stage, it may be hard to know if you are experiencing a typical pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy. Abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain should be reported to your obstetriciangynecologist or other health care professional.
Sudden, severe pain in the abdomen or pelvis
Weakness, dizziness, or fainting
Questions For Your Doctor
- Could vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy be a sign of ectopic pregnancy?
- Where is my ectopic pregnancy located?
- What treatment do I need?
- Will I need surgery?
- Im having a hard time dealing with my feelings. Is there someone I could talk to or a support group in my area?
- Id like to get pregnant again. Is there anything I can do to minimize my risk of having another ectopic pregnancy?
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Diagnosing An Ectopic Pregnancy
If youre pregnant or could be pregnant and have lower abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding you can call your provider to get guidance on where to be seen. They may have you come into their office or tell you to go to the emergency room . If you dont have a healthcare provider, its best to go directly to the ER.
A blood test can check the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin a hormone produced during pregnancy. The level of hCG, especially when its checked over time, is an important clue as to whether a pregnancy is developing normally. A complete blood cell count is another blood test that can also look for signs of bleeding inside of the body.
A pelvic ultrasound shows whether theres a pregnancy in the uterus or in one of the fallopian tubes. Sometimes the ultrasound and the blood test for hCG need to be repeated on different days. If its very early in the pregnancy, the first blood test and ultrasound might not be able to tell if a pregnancy is developing normally. But repeat tests over a period of a few days help to identify if a pregnancy is growing and if its in the right location.
How You May Feel About An Ectopic Pregnancy
Having an ectopic pregnancy can have a huge impact on your mental health. Everyone is different but youll likely have lots of feelings and emotions and may need time to come to terms with the loss of a baby. Some women might also need time to accept that they could also have lost their life.
You may eventually want to try for another baby. Try to remember that the possibility of a normal pregnancy next time is much greater than the possibility of having another ectopic pregnancy.
You may find it helpful to:
- talk to your partner, family or friends about how you feel
- ask your care team what support is available they may refer you to a counsellor who specialises in support for people affected by ectopic pregnancies
- talk to a Tommys midwife free of charge from 9am5pm, MondayFriday on our helpline 0800 0147 800 or email
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What Causes Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic is actually surprisingly common. In the UK, about 1 in 90 pregnancies are ectopic, and in some other countries the rate is higher.
It all starts about 4 to 5 days after conception, when your fertilised egg is ready to implant. Usually, your egg will have finished its journey down your Fallopian tube and be in the right position for implantation in your womb.
Sometimes, however, the egg is still in your Fallopian tube when it is time for implantation. If it continues to develop, it will stretch and damage the tissues around it, causing internal bleeding and pain, threatening your health and, if left long enough, your life.
Scientists have found that you are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy if you:
But often, there isnt an obvious reason why an ectopic pregnancy happens.
“It is important to remember,” says Munira, “that an ectopic pregnancy cannot be prevented and, whatever caused it, it is not your fault.”
What Will Doctors Do If I Have Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms
It can be tricky for doctors to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy. But, unless you’re very unwell indeed , it’s likely that you’ll be sent to an early pregnancy unit for an ultrasound scan.
If nothing is found , doctors may want to do some blood tests to measure your levels of the pregnancy hormone humanchorionic gonadotropin . These blood tests are often done twice, 48 hours apart, to track how the levels are changing over time .
If doctors still can’t confirm an ectopic pregnancy or if they can’t find it in your Fallopian tubes they may want to make a small cut in your abdomen and insert a laparoscope, a very thin tube with a camera, to look around the inside you more closely. If they find anything during this procedure, they’re likely to remove it, so that you don’t have to go through another procedure later.
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How Is It Treated
For tubal ectopic pregnancies, treatment can be medications that dissolve the ectopic pregnancy tissue, or surgery. The smaller the pregnancy, the more likely that medications can be used. Other ectopic pregnancies are more complex and may require medications, surgery, or commonly a combination of these treatments.
How Do I Know If Im At Risk Of An Ectopic Pregnancy
There are several risk factors that could increase your chance of developing an ectopic pregnancy. A risk factor is a trait or behavior that increases your chance for developing a disease or condition. You may be at a higher risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy if youve had:
- A previous ectopic pregnancy.
- A history of pelvic inflammatory disease , an infection that can cause scar tissue to form in your fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries and cervix.
- Surgery on your fallopian tubes or on the other organs of your pelvic area.
- A history of infertility.
- An intrauterine device , a form of birth control, in place at the time of conception.
- A history of smoking.
Your risk can also increase as you get older. Women over age 35 are more at risk than younger women.
Many women who experience an ectopic pregnancy dont have any of the above risk factors.
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Contraception And Ectopic Pregnancy
The contraceptives currently available in Australia do not increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. However, of pregnancies that occur while using contraception, a percentage are ectopic. These include around:
- five per cent in women using copper IUDs or progestogen-only pills
- ten per cent in women using the contraceptive implant
- up to 50 per cent in women using hormone releasing IUDs.
If a pregnancy occurs as a result of a failed tubal sterilisation, there is also a higher risk that it will be ectopic, but the percentage is unknown.Because implants and IUDs are extremely effective methods of contraception and pregnancy is highly unlikely, these methods can be used in women with a past history of ectopic pregnancy. The progestogen-only pill can also be considered. Women who use these forms of contraception need to be aware of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy.
Will An Ectopic Pregnancy Impact My Chances Of Getting Pregnant Again In The Future
The chances of having a successful pregnancy after an ectopic are very good. Sixty-five percent of women achieve healthy pregnancy within 18 months of their ectopic pregnancy, and some studies suggest this figure rises to around 85 percent after two years. These figures look at post-ectopic pregnancy outcomes as a wholeyour individual chances of conceiving will depend very much on the health of your tubes, and what kind of treatment you had for your ectopic pregnancy.
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Becoming Pregnant Again After An Ectopic Pregnancy
After an ectopic pregnancy, some people want to wait to get pregnant again. If you want to prevent pregnancy you can start any form of birth control . Check with your healthcare provider to see what might be best for you.
The return of your cycle, and when you can try to conceive again, will depend on how you treated the ectopic pregnancy. Each person’s recovery may be slightly different, but for most people, it takes a few cycles before your period returns to your version of normal .
If your ectopic pregnancy didnât need treatment, you can try for pregnancy when a healthcare provider has confirmed that the ectopic pregnancy is no longer present, and you feel emotionally and physically ready .
If you took methotrexate to resolve the pregnancy, it is recommended to wait 12 weeks before trying to conceive . This is because medicine could impact the development of an embryo in a new pregnancy .
If you had surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy, your ability to become pregnant again will depend on a few things. Removal of the fallopian tube and scarring from the surgery can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant in the future . Talk to your healthcare provider about your specific situation to find out how becoming pregnant again might work for you.
Why Does An Ectopic Pregnancy Happen
A woman becomes pregnant when one of her eggs is fertilized by sperm. Normally, once an egg has been fertilized, it moves down a Fallopian tube to the uterus or womb. It implants itself in the uterine wall and is now an embryo. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus because damage, scarring, or distortion of the Fallopian tubes leaves it unable to pass easily into the uterus.
Implantation in a Fallopian tube is called a tubal pregnancy. Or the egg may implant itself in an ovary, the abdomen or the cervix. Whatever the site of implantation, an ectopic pregnancy cannot continue to birth. If the embryo continues to develop, the tube or organ containing it, will eventually burst– a potentially life-threatening emergency.
The risk of an ectopic pregnancy is increased by tube infections, surgery inside the abdomen, fertility medications at the time of fertilization, and a prior ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is usually identified during the first 5 to 10 weeks of pregnancy. Causing symptoms of abdominal and pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding, it may be confused with a miscarriage. How the developing cells are removed depends on their location and size.
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How Long Should I Wait Before Becoming Pregnant Again After An Ectopic Pregnancy
You should talk to your healthcare provider about future pregnancies after being treated for an ectopic pregnancy. Although pregnancy may happen quickly after treatment, its often best to wait about three months. This allows your fallopian tube time to heal and decreases the risk of another ectopic pregnancy.
If My Fallopian Tube Is Removed Can I Still Have A Baby
In most cases, you can still have a baby if you have had one of your fallopian tubes removed. You have a pair of fallopian tubes and eggs can still travel down your remaining tube. There are also assisted fertility procedures where the egg is extracted from the ovary, fertilized outside of the body and placed in the uterus for implantation. This is called in vitro fertilization .
Have an open conversation about your thoughts on future pregnancies with your healthcare provider. Together, you can form a plan and discuss ways to decrease any risk factors you may have.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/06/2020.
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Ectopic Pregnancies Why Do They Happen
- An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an egg implants outside the womb, for example in the fallopian tube.
- 1% of women can experience an ectopic pregnancy.
- There are various risk factors including medical conditions, age and lifestyle but often the cause is unknown.
- Early detection can sometimes save the fallopian tube from permanent damage.
- Whilst risk of another ectopic pregnancy can increase, most woman are able to have a healthy pregnancy after an ectopic.
What is are ectopic pregnancies?
An ectopic pregnancy is a distressing and potentially life-threatening experience in which a fertilised egg implants outside the womb, sometimes attaching to an ovary but more often developing in a fallopian tube.
Early detection can prevent permanent damage to the fallopian tubes and the risk of serious health complications for the mother. Sadly, an ectopic pregnancy isnt viable for mother or baby and fetal survival is very rare.
What causes an ectopic pregnancy? Are there any obvious risk factors to be aware of?
An ectopic pregnancy affects 1 in 100 women and can happen to any woman. According to UK charity Tommys around a third of women who have an ectopic pregnancy have no known risk factors. That said, your risk may be increased by any of the following:
- A previous ectopic pregnancy
- IVF or other fertility treatment
- Becoming pregnant while using an intrauterine device
- A maternal age above 35
Are there obvious signs a pregnancy is ectopic? What should you look out for?
Preventing An Ectopic Pregnancy
Some risks for an ectopic pregnancy cant be avoided like your age, having had surgery, or having endometriosis. But if you and your healthcare provider are aware of these risks, you can be on the lookout for any warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy.
Here are some things you can do to lower the chance of having an ectopic pregnancy:
Stop smoking before you get pregnant or when you find out that you are pregnant.
Practice safe sex, and get checked for any sexually transmitted infections.
Have regular visits with your healthcare provider before you get pregnant so you can address any health concerns or risk factors together.
Once you find out that you are pregnant, see a healthcare provider as soon as possible to begin care. Share your complete health history with them, ask questions, and address any concerns you may have.
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Getting Pregnant Again After Ectopic Pregnancy
Having an ectopic pregnancy should have little bearing on your future fertility. Even if you lost a fallopian tube, the other tube should take over.
Some research has shown that about two-thirds of women treated for ectopic pregnancy conceive and have a normal pregnancy within two years. On average, about 85 percent of couples who haven’t experienced ectopic pregnancy conceive within one year of trying.
Be aware that having one ectopic pregnancy does increase your risk of having another, and the same factors that led to it in the first place may be still at work.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that happens outside of the uterus. This happens when a fertilized egg implants in a structure that cant support its growth. An ectopic pregnancy often happens in the fallopian tube . In rare cases, an ectopic pregnancy can occur on an ovary or in the abdominal cavity.
This is a life-threatening condition. An ectopic pregnancy is not a pregnancy that can be carried to term and can be dangerous for the mother if not treated right away.
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How An Ectopic Pregnancy Is Treated
There are 3 main treatments for an ectopic pregnancy:
- expectant management you’re carefully monitored and 1 of the treatments below is used if the fertilised egg doesn’t dissolve by itself
- medicine an injection of a powerful medicine called methotrexate is used to stop the pregnancy growing
- surgery keyhole surgery is performed under general anaesthetic to remove the fertilised egg, usually along with the affected fallopian tube
You’ll be told about the benefits and risks of each option. In many cases, a particular treatment will be recommended based on your symptoms and the results of the tests you have.
Some treatments may reduce your chances of being able to conceive naturally in the future, although most women will still be able to get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about this.
Read more about treating an ectopic pregnancy.