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Ectopic Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment


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Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency and must be treated in a hospital. It usually happens around the eighth week of pregnancy and requires immediate medical attention. 

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an egg fails to implant in the uterus. As the egg develops outside the uterus, it must be removed. 

This type of pregnancy is often life-threatening, but treatment options are available. Although there is no way to prevent ectopic pregnancy, certain lifestyle habits can reduce the likelihood of it. 

Avoiding tobacco use, maintaining a healthy weight, and preventing STIs are all ways to reduce the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. You should also consult your healthcare provider before trying to become pregnant. 

While it is possible to conceive again after an ectopic pregnancy, you are at a greater risk for future ectopic pregnancy. It would be best if you discussed your symptoms and treatments with your healthcare provider as early as possible to help you determine the exact cause of your condition.

This article will discuss Ectopic pregnancy causes, symptoms, prevention & treatment. 

Ectopic Pregnancy Meaning

Ectopic pregnancy is a condition in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. In most cases, the egg gets stuck in the fallopian tube. As the fallopian tube is not made to hold the egg, the embryo won’t develop. An ectopic pregnancy is life-threatening as it can cause bleeding in the mother.

Early warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy include pain in the lower abdomen. This pain may occur after a period of irregular menstruation. A woman suffering from an ectopic pregnancy may also experience painful bowel movements, nausea, or an abnormal vaginal discharge. 

Fortunately, an ectopic pregnancy can be easily detected through a blood test of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). A woman’s hCG level should double every two days; if it is below that level, the pregnancy is likely ectopic. A doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to remove the developing cells or prevent blood loss.

What Are Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms?

You should consult your doctor if you suspect you have an ectopic pregnancy. Although ectopic pregnancy is rare, it is a serious medical condition that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. The ectopic pregnancy can result from various factors, including tubal ligation, surgery on the fallopian tubes, or IVF treatment. Pain in the pelvis, lower abdomen, and lower back are common symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. Here are some other symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy.

  • Severe pain on one side of the abdomen
  • Sharp pain in the pelvis, abdomen, shoulder, or neck
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Light to heavy vaginal spotting
  • Rectal pressure

What Are Ectopic Pregnancy Causes?

An ectopic pregnancy is a rare but serious medical condition that occurs when a fertilized egg fails to migrate down the fallopian tube. A blockage in the fallopian tube can be caused by infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, or scar tissue. The fallopian tube is the most common location for an ectopic pregnancy, but it can also develop in the ovary, cervix, or belly.

If you have symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, contact your doctor right away. If the ectopic pregnancy is detected early, it will not only prevent the pregnancy from developing but will also prevent health complications in the future. Your healthcare provider will also be able to determine the causes of the condition and how to treat it. Here are some common ectopic pregnancy causes.

  • Scarring or inflammation in the fallopian tube
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Hormonal factors
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Medical conditions that affect the fallopian tube

Who Is At Risk for An Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is a rare condition that occurs in 1 out of 50 pregnant women. There are several risk factors that can increase a woman’s risk of an ectopic pregnancy. People who have had tubal ligation, a surgical procedure that removes a woman’s fallopian tubes, smoking, or using multiple sex partners increase their risk of an ectopic pregnancy. 

While these risk factors can increase a woman’s chance of ectopic pregnancy, many women who experience this condition do not have a family history of the condition. Women in their thirties and forties are at higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Here are some risk factors for ectopic pregnancy.

  • History of pelvic surgery, abortions, or abdominal surgery
  • Age of 35 years or older
  • History of endometriosis
  • History of pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Conception aided by fertility drugs
  • Conception despite intrauterine device or tubal litigation
  • History of ectopic pregnancy
  • History of STDs
  • Smoking
  • Having structural abnormalities in the fallopian tube

Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment

When it comes to treating ectopic pregnancy, there are two main options, medication, and surgery. You should talk to your doctor about all the options to ensure you receive the right treatment for your condition. In the meantime, you can try the following ectopic pregnancy treatment options

  • Medication

The standard medical treatment for ectopic pregnancy is methotrexate. This medication interferes with cell division and inhibits the growth of ectopic cells. If taken correctly, methotrexate is safe and effective for healthy women. Medication for treating ectopic pregnancy may be given in the form of an injection by your healthcare provider. This treatment is less invasive than surgery, but you will have to visit your healthcare provider for follow-ups to ensure the medication is working. It may take several days before the effects of the medication wear off. When you take Methotrexate, you might experience miscarriage-like symptoms, i.e., bleeding, cramping, or passing of tissue. 

  • Surgery

Surgery for treating ectopic pregnancy can be an option for women who have experienced heavy bleeding or other symptoms that may signal the need for medical treatment. Most cases of ectopic pregnancy can be successfully treated by surgery. However, there are some risks associated with surgery. Surgery for treating ectopic pregnancy involves removing the pregnancy through a small incision in the abdomen. In severe cases, the pregnancy may rupture the fallopian tube, causing heavy bleeding. In such cases, emergency surgery may be necessary. 

How to Prevent Ectopic Pregnancy?

There is no known treatment for ectopic pregnancy, but there are several ways to reduce your chances of developing one. One important way is to practice safe sex. If you’re sexually active, you should limit the number of partners you have and avoid sexually transmitted diseases, which can affect the fallopian tubes. Another way to reduce your chances of developing ectopic pregnancy is to quit smoking.

Another method of preventing ectopic pregnancy is to use contraceptive implants. These contraceptives prevent ovulation, and they’re highly effective. In vitro fertilization is another way to reduce your risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy. In vitro fertilization is a process that involves fertilizing an egg outside of the body and placing it into the uterus. 

Proper counselling and treatment are essential in preventing ectopic pregnancy. The risks of an ectopic pregnancy are reduced by using all forms of contraception, including IUDs and IVF. A woman should seek medical care as soon as she notices the first signs of the condition. If the risk is severe, emergency surgery may be needed.


  • What is the Best Treatment for Ectopic Pregnancy?

Often, the best treatment for ectopic pregnancy involves injections of methotrexate, an anti-inflammatory drug, which will prevent the ectopic pregnancy from growing. 

  • How Can I Stop an Ectopic Pregnancy From Growing?

If you have an ectopic pregnancy, methotrexate medicine can stop the embryo from growing. Apart from that, you can also go for a surgical procedure.

  • What Are 3 Causes of an Ectopic Pregnancy?

The three main causes of an ectopic pregnancy are inflammation or scarring of the fallopian tube, hormonal factors, and genetic abnormalities. 


ss is a serious condition in which the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus. A woman’s fallopian tube is the main place in which an ectopic pregnancy occurs. When an ectopic pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tube, the embryo can’t grow. However, if the pregnancy continues, it can rupture the fallopian tube, leading to internal bleeding. This is a life-threatening condition. So, it is best to contact your doctor immediately if you notice the symptoms.

Srujana Mohanty
She is the Managing Editor of Cogito137, one of India’s leading student-run science communication magazines. She's been working in scientific and medical writing and editing since 2018, also associated with the quality assurance team of scientific journal editing. Majored in Chemistry with a minor in Biology at IISER Kolkata, Srujana loves doodling and watching series.


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