When Are Ectopic Pregnancies Found

When Are Ectopic Pregnancies Found?

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. This can occur in the Fallopian tube, within the abdomen, or in the cervix. Although ectopic pregnancies are rare, they can be very serious, even life-threatening. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, so it can be treated promptly and safely.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancies?

There are many symptoms of ectopic pregnancies and these typically present several weeks after a missed period. These include:

  • Abdominal pain – This is often felt on one side of the pelvis and may be severe.
  • Vaginal bleeding – Often present with or without pain.
  • Shoulder pain – This is caused by a build-up of blood in the abdomen.
  • Low blood pressure – From internal blood loss.
  • Weakness and fatigue – Caused by internal blood loss and/or dehydration.

How is an Ectopic Pregnancy Diagnosed?

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A doctor can diagnose an ectopic pregnancy by:

  • Medical history and physical exam – To assess the severity of the condition.
  • Ultrasound – To measure the size of gestational sac and detect any non-uterine sites of implantation.
  • Blood tests – To measure levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone and check for signs of internal bleeding.

What Are My Treatment Options for Ectopic Pregnancies?

Ectopic pregnancies must be treated promptly and safely. Treatment options include:

  • Surgery – If the ectopic pregnancy is located in the Fallopian tube, it can often be surgically removed, preserving the tube.
  • Medication – Injections of the drug Methotrexate are used to stop the pregnancy from growing and to eventually dissolve the ectopic tissue.
  • Observation – Sometimes, if the pregnancy is found early, doctors may choose to observe the pregnancy to see if it resolves on its own.


Ectopic pregnancies can be serious and even life-threatening, but are usually found early and treated promptly and safely. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, so that treatment can be administered quickly and accurately. If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

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