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Fertility After Ectopic Pregnancy

Having an ectopic pregnancy may affect your future fertility, and it increases your risk of having another ectopic pregnancy. When an ectopic pregnancy grows in a fallopian tube, it can damage the surrounding tubal tissue. This may make it more likely that an egg will get stuck there in the future. But early detection and treatment can minimize the damaging effects of an ectopic pregnancy.

Future fertility

Your chances of having another ectopic pregnancy will be affected by your own combination of risk factors (things that increase your risk). These can include smoking, use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) to get pregnant, and how much fallopian tube damage you have.

Your future fertility and chances of having a successful pregnancy in the future will also depend on:1

  • Whether your other fallopian tube is healthy.
  • The extent of damage to your fallopian tube.
  • Whether you have a history of infertility.

Early detection is the key to avoiding new tube damage.

As long as you have one healthy fallopian tube, salpingostomy (small tubal slit) and salpingectomy (part of tube removed) have about the same effect on your future fertility. But if your other tube is damaged, your doctor may try to do a salpingostomy. This may improve your chances of getting pregnant in the future.2

If you become pregnant and are at high risk for ectopic pregnancy, you will be closely watched. Doctors do not always agree about which risk factors are serious enough to watch closely. But research suggests that risk is serious enough if you have had a tubal surgery or an ectopic pregnancy before, were exposed to the chemical DES (diethylstilbestrol) before birth, have known fallopian tube problems, or have a pregnancy with an intrauterine device (IUD) in place.3

Citations

  1. Leven ED, et al. (2010). Ectopic pregnancy and spontaneous abortion. In RG Nabel. ed., ACP Medicine, section 16, chap. 6. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

  2. Farquhar CM (2005). Ectopic pregnancy. Lancet, 366: 583-591.

  3. Speroff L, Fritz MA (2005). Ectopic pregnancy. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 7th ed., pp. 1275-1302. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised May 6, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 06, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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