Medicine can only be used for early
ectopic pregnancies that have not ruptured. Depending
on where the ectopic growth is and what type of surgery would otherwise be
used, medicine may be less likely than surgical treatment to cause
fallopian tube damage.
Medicine is most
likely to work when an early ectopic pregnancy is not causing bleeding
- Your pregnancy hormone (hCG, or human chorionic
gonadotropin) level is low (less than 5,000).
- The embryo has no heart
For an ectopic pregnancy that is more developed, surgery is
a safer and more dependable treatment.
Methotrexate is used to stop the growth
of an early ectopic pregnancy. It can also be used after surgical ectopic
treatment to ensure that all ectopic cell growth has stopped.
If your blood type is
Rh immunoglobulin may be used to protect any future pregnancies against
Rh sensitization. For more information, see the topic
Rh Sensitization During Pregnancy.
What to think about
Methotrexate treatment is
usually the first choice for ending an early ectopic pregnancy. If the
pregnancy is further along, surgery is safer and more likely than medicine to
Routine follow-up blood tests are needed for days to
weeks after the medicine is injected.
Methotrexate can cause
unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, indigestion, and diarrhea. For
information about how to minimize side effects, see these
tips for managing methotrexate treatment.
Methotrexate versus surgery
If your ectopic
pregnancy is not too far advanced and has not ruptured, methotrexate may be a
treatment option for you. Successful methotrexate treatment of an early ectopic
pregnancy avoids the risks of surgery, may be less likely to damage the
fallopian tube than surgery, and is more likely to preserve your
If you are not concerned with preserving fertility,
surgery for an ectopic pregnancy is faster than methotrexate treatment and will
likely cause less bleeding.