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Ectopic Pregnancy - Cause

Fallopian tube damage is a common cause of ectopic pregnancy. A fertilized egg can become caught in the damaged area of a tube and begin to grow there. Some ectopic pregnancies occur without any known cause.

Common causes of fallopian tube damage that may lead to an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Smoking. Women who smoke or who used to smoke have higher rates of ectopic pregnancy. Smoking is thought to damage the fallopian tubes' ability to move the fertilized egg toward the uterus.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), such as from a chlamydia or gonorrhea infection. PID can create scar tissue in the fallopian tubes.
  • Fallopian tube surgery, often used to reverse a tubal ligation or to repair a scarred or blocked tube.
  • A previous ectopic pregnancy in a fallopian tube.

Although pregnancy is rare after a tubal ligation or with an intrauterine device (IUD), those pregnancies that do develop may have an increased chance of being ectopic.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 26, 2013
    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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