What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition in which an embryo implants outside of the uterus, most often in the fallopian tubes, which may cause the tube to burst.1 Ectopic pregnancy is a leading cause of death in first trimester pregnancies.2 Ectopic pregnancy requires specific medical intervention and cannot be terminated by a standard surgical abortion.3

Certain factors that increases your risk

The risk of ectopic pregnancy is increased by certain factors in a woman’s medical history. Sometimes these factors create a chain reaction which can lead to ectopic pregnancy. For example, if a woman has had a previous abortion or has an undiagnosed STD, she has an increased risk of developing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, also known as PID.4 Women who use an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control are also at greater risk for developing PID.4 PID is an infection of the reproductive organs and is characterized by inflammation of those organs.5 The inflammation created by PID then increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy.6 Women who have PID may or may not have any symptoms, so they may also not be aware that they are at greater risk for ectopic pregnancy.5

Signs of an Ectopic Pregnancy

It is important to know that an ectopic pregnancy cannot be terminated by either The Morning After Pill or the abortion pill, however, these medications can mask the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, causing it to go undiagnosed.7 Some of the signs of Ectopic Pregnancy include vomiting, lower abdominal pain, sharp abdominal cramps, dizziness or weakness.8 In the case of these symptoms, please contact your health care provider and immediately go to the emergency room.

Even if you do not have any symptoms, it is important to rule out ectopic pregnancy before you proceed with an abortion decision. A pregnancy test alone will not determine whether or not your pregnancy is ectopic. However, the Women’s Clinics Maryland offers pre-abortion ultrasounds, which may help to determine whether or not your pregnancy is ectopic.

We can give you the information you need. If you haven’t had a viability ultrasound, make an appointment with us today.

  1.  Ectopic pregnancy. What is ectopic pregnancy? Planned Parenthood Web site. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/pregnancy/ectopic-pregnancy-4259.htm. Accessed August 4, 2013.
  2. Mignini L. Interventions for tubal ectopic pregnancy; RHL commentary (last revised: 26 September 2007). The WHO Reproductive Health Library; Geneva: World Health Organization
  3. http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/ectopic-pregnancy-treatment-overview
  4. Blackwell, A. L Et. Al. “Universal prophylaxis for Chlamydia trachomatis and anaerobic vaginosis in women attending for suction termination of pregnancy: an audit of short-term health gains.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine Web site. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10471099?dopt=AbstractPlus.  Accessed August 4, 2013.
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/STDFact-PID.htm
  6. Parazzini F, Ferraroni M, Tozzi L, Ricci F, Mezzopane R, La Vecchia C. Induced abortions and risk of ectopic pregnancy. Hum Reprod. 1995 Jul;10(7):1841-4.
  7. Mifeprex Questions and Answers; Questions 21-23. Food and Drug Administration Web site. www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm111328.htm. Accessed August 4, 2013.
  8. “Ectopic Pregnancy: Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” WebMD. WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-ectopic-pregnancy . Accessed Febuary 4, 2015.