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Health & Pregnancy

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Ectopic Pregnancy

What happens if an embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus? This is an ectopic pregnancy -- a life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment. It may occur in up to one of every 50 pregnancies.

An ectopic pregnancy usually occurs when the embryo implants in one of the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. This is why doctors sometimes call it a tubal pregnancy. In rare cases, the embryo attaches to an ovary or other organ in the abdomen.

Ectopic pregnancy happens most often within the first few weeks of pregnancy. You might not even know you're pregnant. But doctors usually discover it by the 8th week of pregnancy.

Rest assured: If this happens to you, it's likely you can go on to have a healthy pregnancy in the future.

Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy

Common signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:

If the fallopian tube ruptures, the pain and bleeding can be severe enough to cause fainting.

If you experience the symptoms listed above, contact your doctor right away. Then go straight to the emergency room. Quick care at the hospital can reduce the risk of severe bleeding. It can also help preserve your fertility.

Causes of an Ectopic Pregnancy

A damaged fallopian tube may not allow the fertilized egg to pass to the uterus. This can cause the egg to implant in the fallopian tube or somewhere else.

You might not ever know what caused an ectopic pregnancy. But these factors increase your risk:

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