Getting pregnant may be the best thing that happens to a mother. But not all forms of pregnancy are safe. There are times when pregnancy gets out of hand. They can be harmful to the health of the mother and be detrimental to the formation of the baby. One such pregnancy is ectopic pregnancy. But early detection can prevent much harm to the mother. So, what are the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy?
What is ectopic pregnancy?
Ectopic literally means “out of place”. When a mother has ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg is implanted outside of the uterus. Most of the time, about 95% of the cases of ectopic pregnancies, the fertilized egg settles in the fallopian tube instead of burrowing into the uterine wall. And this is why ectopic pregnancy is also known as tubal pregnancy. The fertilized egg may also implant in the ovary, the cervix, and the abdomen. These ectopic pregnancies are also called cervical or abdominal pregnancies.
Ectopic pregnancies are very dangerous if left alone. If the fertilized egg is left alone to implant on the fallopian tube or in the ovary, the embryo will grow and eventually rupture the tube. Since the ovary and the fallopian tubes are not built to support a growing baby, it will not be able to handle all the pressure of the growing embryo and will give way. Once the tube ruptures, the mother will experience severe abdominal pain and bleeding. It could also cause permanent damage to the affected part or loss of that particular part. And if an internal bleeding occurs and is left untreated, it could lead to the death of the mother.
The problem with ectopic pregnancies is that there are no ways to move the fertilized egg from the fallopian tube, or any other area, to the uterus. The only way to prevent the risks involved in an ectopic pregnancy is to terminate the pregnancy. So, in order to stop the pregnancy before the embryo fully develops and damages the mother’s fallopian tube, ovary, or abdomen, one must be able to detect the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy.
Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy
The early signs of an ectopic pregnancy are very much similar to those of a regular or normal pregnancy. A mother having ectopic pregnancy experiences missed menstrual period, nausea, tenderness of breasts, fatigue, and increased urination. These symptoms are very much alike the early symptoms of a normal pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy is first suspected when the mother goes to her first prenatal visit and experiences pain during her abdominal or pelvic exam or when the doctor detects a mass. It may also be discovered as the mother has her first-trimester ultrasound. This ultrasound is usually done for other reasons but can detect any other abnormalities in the pregnancy during the process.
As the ectopic pregnancy develops, the symptoms also progress. The following are the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy:
• Pelvic/abdominal pain. Pelvic or abdominal pain is a good sign of an ectopic pregnancy. The pain may be sudden, severe, and persistent or it may be mild and intermittent. The pain also gets worse when there is active movements, or when coughing or having bowel movements. The pain may also be only on one side or it may be anywhere in the abdomen and pelvic area.
• Vaginal spotting. This spotting or bleeding may be light or heavy. The blood may be red or brownish in color, similar to that of dried blood.
• Dizziness. Dizziness, along lightheadedness or fainting, may also be experienced. This is most likely due to the loss of blood.
• Back pain. The back, especially the shoulders, may be affected. The diaphragm, which is above the abdomen, may be irritated due to the bleeding. And this irritation is manifested through shoulder and back pains. The neck may also be affected by the bleeding.
• Low blood pressure. This decrease in blood pressure is due to the loss of blood.
• Shock. Signs of shock, such as pale clammy skin, weak racing pulse, and dizziness or fainting, are signs that the fallopian tube or the ovary has already been ruptured.
The symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are also similar to those of miscarriage. But either way, it is important to get checked right away to avoid complications.