In a normal pregnancy, a fertilized egg travels through a fallopian tube to the uterus. The egg attaches in the uterus and starts to grow. But in an ectopic pregnancy , the fertilized egg attaches (or implants) someplace other than the uterus, most often in the fallopian tube. (This is why it is sometimes called a tubal pregnancy.) In rare cases, the egg implants in an ovary, the cervix, or the belly.
There is no way to save an ectopic pregnancy. It cannot turn into a normal pregnancy. If the egg keeps growing in the fallopian tube, it can damage or burst the tube and cause heavy bleeding that could be deadly. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, you will need quick treatment to end it before it causes dangerous problems.
An ectopic pregnancy is often caused by damage to the fallopian tubes. A fertilized egg may have trouble passing through a damaged tube, causing the egg to implant and grow in the tube.
Things that make you more likely to have fallopian tube damage and an ectopic pregnancy include:
Some medical treatments can increase your risk of ectopic pregnancy. These include:
In the first few weeks, an ectopic pregnancy usually causes the same symptoms as a normal pregnancy, such as a missed menstrual period, fatigue, nausea, and sore breasts.
The key signs of an ectopic pregnancy are:
- Pelvic or belly pain. It may be sharp on one side at first and then spread through your belly. It may be worse when you move or strain.
- Vaginal bleeding.
If you think you are pregnant and you have these symptoms, see your doctor right away.