ectopic pregnancy symptoms
Health

Ectopic pregnancy symptoms and treatment

Ectopic pregnancy, also known as tubal pregnancy, is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo attaches outside the uterus. Some ectopic pregnancy symptoms and treatment are outlined below. 

Why does an ectopic pregnancy happen?

Medical professionals don’t really know why an ectopic pregnancy happens. The egg normally spends about five days travelling down the tube from the ovary to your uterus, where it implants and begins to develop. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, this doesn’t happen, and your pregnancy begins to develop in the tube. This may happen due to damage to your fallopian tube, which causes your tube to be too narrow for the egg to reach its destination.

Recognising an ectopic pregnancy is not easy. It may feel like period pains. Symptoms may come and go, or you may not even feel any symptoms during the early stages.

Ectopic pregnancy symptoms:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding, different from your normal period. It may be lighter, and brighter, or darker red than usual, or watery. Some women describe it as looking like prune juice.
  • Mild to severe one-sided pain in your lower abdomen or pelvis, which may come on gradually or suddenly. If you experience this and you think you may be pregnant, see your doctor. If your ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed early, your tube may be stretched by your growing embryo, and rupture.

This will usually cause internal bleeding, and the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sweating and feeling light-headed, faint or dizzy.
  • Diarrhoea or pain when you poo.
  • Shock, or collapsing.
  • Shoulder-tip pain, which may be worse when you lie down. It is not known exactly why shoulder tip pain occurs, but it usually occurs when you are lying down and is a sign that the ectopic pregnancy is causing internal bleeding.

What to do

See your doctor immediately, or go to hospital. If your fallopian tube has ruptured, you’ll go straight to surgery. But in most cases, ectopic pregnancies are caught early enough for tests to be done and surgery to be planned.

Ectopic pregnancy treatment

If an ectopic pregnancy is discovered during the examination, the surgeon will remove the pregnancy and the fallopian tube (salpingectomy). Removing the affected tube decreases your risk of having another ectopic pregnancy. It is possible to remove the ectopic pregnancy from your tube and preserve the fallopian tube if it hasn’t already ruptured, or become severely damaged. This may be preferred if you only have one tube, or if your other fallopian tube doesn’t look healthy.

More you might like:

11 pregnancy pains and how to treat them
Symptoms of morning sickness
Dos and don’t of pregnancy 

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….