An ectopic pregnancy or a tubal pregnancy refers to the pregnancy in which the fertilised egg stays in woman’s fallopian tube.
An ectopic pregnancy is a rare condition which usually happens within the first few weeks of pregnancy. Doctors usually discover it by the 8th week. The baby cannot survive but it is most likely that a woman would be able to have a healthy pregnancy in the future.
An ectopic pregnancy is treated right away to avoid rupture and severe blood loss. Based on how early the pregnancy is detected and overall condition of mother, the doctor decides the treatment option. There is a choice between using medicine or surgery to end the pregnancy if an ectopic pregnancy is not causing bleeding.
The treatment options for an ectopic pregnancy are detailed below.
Medicine: Doctors may prescribe methotrexate to end an ectopic pregnancy which spares you from an incision and general anaesthesia. Like all other medications, methotrexate too has side-effects and may take several weeks of hormone blood-level testing to make sure that treatment has worked. Methotrexate is prescribed when the embryo has no heart activity or when your pregnancy hormone levels (human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG) are low (less than 5,000).
There could be a case in which ectopic pregnancies can be resistant to the medicine. If taking methotrexate does not bring down hCG levels or doesn’t curb the bleeding, the next step is surgery.
Surgery: Health care personnel will go ahead with the surgery for an ectopic pregnancy that is causing severe symptoms, like bleeding or high hCG levels. In such cases medicine is not likely to work and a rupture becomes more likely with the passage of time. If possible, the doctor will do a laparoscopic surgery that uses a small incision. In case of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, emergency surgery is needed.
There are different surgeries for a tubal ectopic pregnancy. The doctors usually make a slit in the fallopian tube (salpingostomy), rather than removing a section of the tube (salpingectomy). Surgery is a faster treatment in comparison with medicine, but may cause scar tissue that could cause problems in future pregnancies.
Expectant management: An early ectopic pregnancy is similar to natural miscarriage for which treatment may not be needed. After it occurs, your doctor will test your blood on a regular basis to check if your pregnancy hormone (hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin) levels are dropping. The procedure of watching out for pregnancy hormones is called expectant management.
After treatment, there may be a chance that ectopic pregnancy will affect a woman’s fertility later in life. An ectopic pregnancy that doesn’t damage the fallopian tubes should not affect the chances of conceiving later on. However, even if one of the tubes is ruptured or damagedthe chances of conceiving again are reduced.
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