test can show if you are pregnant. To find out if you have an ectopic
pregnancy, your doctor will likely do:
- A pelvic exam to check the size of your
uterus and feel for growths or tenderness in your belly.
- A blood
test that checks the level of the pregnancy hormone (hCG). This test is
repeated 2 days later. During early pregnancy, the level of this hormone
doubles every 2 days. Low levels suggest a problem, such as ectopic pregnancy.
ultrasound. This test can show pictures of what is
inside your belly. With ultrasound, a doctor can usually see a pregnancy in the
uterus 6 weeks after your last menstrual period.
The most common treatments are
medicine and surgery. In most cases, a doctor will treat an ectopic pregnancy
right away to prevent harm to the woman.
Medicine can be used if
the pregnancy is found early, before the tube is damaged. In most cases, one or
more shots of a medicine called methotrexate will end the pregnancy. Taking the
shot lets you avoid surgery, but it can cause side effects. You will need to
see your doctor for follow-up blood tests to make sure the shot worked.
For a pregnancy that has gone beyond the first few weeks, surgery is
safer and more likely to work than medicine. If possible, the surgery will be
laparoscopy (say "lap-uh-ROSS-kuh-pee"). This type of
surgery is done through one or more small cuts (incisions) in your belly. If
you need emergency surgery, you may have a larger incision.
Losing a pregnancy is always hard, no matter how early it happened. Take
time to grieve your loss, and get the support you need to make it through this
You could be at risk for
depression after an ectopic pregnancy. If you have
symptoms of depression that last for more than a couple of weeks, be sure to
tell your doctor so you can get the help you need.
It is common to
worry about your fertility after an ectopic pregnancy. Having an ectopic
pregnancy does not mean that you can't have a normal pregnancy in the future.
But it does mean that:
- You may have trouble getting pregnant.
- You are more likely to have another ectopic pregnancy.
If you get pregnant again, be sure your doctor knows that
you had an ectopic pregnancy before. Regular testing in the first weeks of
pregnancy can find a problem early or let you know that the pregnancy is