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ectopic pregnancy

The statistics for ectopic are 1 in 250 pregnancies (miscarriages are 1 in 4) so ectopic pregnancies are often overlooked or lumped in with miscarriage, mainly because the end result is an early pregnancy loss. Although we too have included them, we do understand that there are differences both physically and emotionally. In miscarriage the baby loss outcome is inevitable as the baby has usually already died, depending on the cause, and the miscarriage is triggered by the body itself. With ectopic pregnancies, the baby is still alive, and there are conscious decisions needed to be made by medical professionals, with the complicity of the mother herself to save her own life, and literally ‘kill’ her baby by removing it – no matter at what stage of development it has reached. The resulting trauma and guilt from that for the woman is so much more intense. (see links & contacts) – personal memories

If you are reading this it is most likely after an ectopic, as things would have happened very quickly. If not, and the symptoms below apply to you – please get help immediately. You are in a dangerous situation. This pregnancy is growing outside of the uterus, where the normal fertilised egg is most commonly stuck in the fallopian tube and cannot survive. It also puts you, the mother, at risk as the baby continues to develop until it eventually ruptures the tube. This pregnancy will have to be terminated immediately to save your life.

The symptoms are:
  • Sharp, intense pains that do not feel like period pains and could also be felt in your shoulder
  • A pregnancy test that is positive, then turns negative a few days later
  • Dark bleeding like prune juice that continues and can be spotty, starting after the pain
  • Faintness, nausea, dizziness and vomiting.

For an ectopic diagnosis, amongst other things, the medical professional may check your Hcg levels, which could be lower than in a normal pregnancy and also ask about your past and perhaps family medical/pregnancy history. An ultrasound check is also usually done for confirmation of an ectopic. A decision will then be made to remove the embryo and end the pregnancy. Depending on the medical options available and the country involved, it could be by using a drug called methotrexate or be a surgical procedure. For the latter, it will require being admitted to hospital.

The surgeon will remove the pregnancy where possible by laproscope (a small incision through your navel) requiring an overnight or a few days stay or by laporotomy (cutting through your abdominal wall) requiring about a fortnight recovery time. Surgeons normally try very hard to leave your fallopian tubes intact, but if the pregnancy has left the tube badly damaged, it will need removing. When this happens, you will not be able to conceive when you ovulate on this side (the other side is unaffected) without fertility treatment.

These are guidelines only, every case is different and there are also several risk factors around ectopic pregnancy even if treated. There could be another ectopic and it can also affect future fertility including pelvic inflammatory disease.  Suggestions are usually offered for the future. For more medical information visit http://www.obgyn.net/ (09.09)

However, it is most likely that you are reading this entry because you are looking for help. Unfortunately, we do not have any support information other than our ‘grief’ section. A counsellor specialising in grief therapy may be more useful or ladies on our Forum who have also had ectopics. Only women who have had a similar experience will really relate to you and we do not currently have any direct connections. (The one lady who was kind enough to write her personal story for us was some time ago. She is mentioned in the opening paragraph.) For support or a forum visit ectopicpregnancyfoundation.org (09.09)


‘It's one thing to find out you are losing your baby and to want that baby as desperately as any mother, and another thing altogether to find out that your baby is alive, especially if you saw its head and perhaps budding limbs and a heart beating on a scan, and then having to terminate the pregnancy anyway. You will probably also have more difficulty getting support from your friends and family.  They might be saying things like, "At least you caught it in time and you didn’t die," when you already know that and what you now need is support for the loss of your baby.’

Synopsis from Bella-on-line