What is ectopic pregnancy and how does it happen

It is a time of great of joy when you have been trying to get pregnant for a while and finally your pregnancy test comes up positive. A positive pregnancy test is the happiest moment for a couple who want to start a family. There can be no better news.

Every couple expects a normal pregnancy and that everything will go well. It is devastating for a couple to learn that they have an ectopic pregnancy. A majority of the couples do not even know what it means when the doctor tells them that they have an ectopic pregnancy. The word ‘ectopic’ rings in their ears like a haunting strain.

During conception the egg is fertilised by the sperm in the fallopian tubes. This fertilised egg then travels to the uterus and attaches itself to the uterine lining. If the fertilised egg attaches itself to any other place outside the uterus it is known as an ectopic pregnancy.

Most commonly an ectopic pregnancy takes place in the fallopian tubes and occasionally in the cervix or the ovary or elsewhere in the abdominal area. The paramount concern in an ectopic pregnancy is that it is impossible for the egg to survive and grow outside the uterus. The fallopian tubes cannot hold the pregnancy and have not been designed in such a way by nature.

As per statistics 1 in every 50 pregnancies turns out to be an ectopic pregnancy. In recent times the number of ectopic pregnancies appears to be growing. Researchers believe that this could be due to the rise in the number of women suffering from sexually transmitted diseases (STD). The STD can at times severely damage the fallopian tubes.

An ectopic pregnancy that takes place in the fallopian tubes is because of the inability of the egg to easily move to the uterus after fertilisation for implantation. The obstruction to the smooth travel of the embryo could be caused by a number of different factors. Some likely reasons are infections in the fallopian tubes or an inflammation, scar tissue from a previous surgery or adhesions. Some women are born with birth defects like abnormally shaped fallopian tubes. This hinders the movement of the fertilised egg, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy.

The only course of action for an ectopic pregnancy is to remove the egg and terminate the pregnancy. There is no way to save this kind of pregnancy. The egg cannot be allowed to grow in the fallopian tubes as it will rupture them.

Some FAQ’s

Can I have a normal pregnancy after an ectopic pregnancy?

In most cases yes you can, but it depends to some extent on the reason for your previous ectopic pregnancy

What is the probability of my having an ectopic pregnancy?

The current rate is 2%. Two out of every hundred pregnancies are ectopic

Are there any precautions I can take to avoid an ectopic pregnancy?

A thorough medical check up to ensure that all your reproductive organs are healthy, without defects and functioning correctly can prevent an ectopic pregnancy.

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