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What to Know About Ectopic Pregnancy

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In a normal pregnancy, your ovary releases an egg into your fallopian tube. If the egg meets with a sperm, the fertilized egg moves into your uterus to attach to its lining and continues to grow for the next 9 months.

But in up to 1 of every 50 pregnancies, the fertilized egg stays in your fallopian tube. In that case, it's called an ectopic pregnancy or a tubal pregnancy. In rare cases, the fertilized egg attaches to one of your ovaries, another organ in your abdomen, the cornua (or horn) of the uterus or even the cervix. In any case, instead of celebrating your pregnancy, you find your life is in danger. Ectopic pregnancies require emergency treatment.

Most often, ectopic pregnancy happens within the first few weeks of pregnancy. You might not even know you're pregnant yet, so it can be a big shock. Doctors usually discover it by the 8th week of pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancies can be scary and sad. The baby probably can't survive -- though in extremely rare cases he or she might. (This is not possible in a tubal pregnancy, cornual or cervical ) So it's a loss that may take some time to get over. It may comfort you to know that if you have an ectopic pregnancy, you'll likely be able to have a healthy pregnancy in the future.

Fallopian Tube

Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy

If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above, contact your health care provider immediately and go to the emergency room. Getting to the hospital quickly is important to reduce the risk of hemorrhaging (severe bleeding) and to preserve your fertility.

Causes of an Ectopic Pregnancy

One cause of an ectopic pregnancy is a damaged fallopian tube that doesn't let a fertilized egg into your uterus, so it implants in the fallopian tube or somewhere else.

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