Ectopic Pregnancy - What Happens
Normally, at the beginning of a
pregnancy, the fertilized egg travels from the
fallopian tube to the
uterus, where it implants and grows. But in a small number of diagnosed pregnancies, the fertilized egg attaches to an area outside of the
uterus, which results in an
ectopic pregnancy (also known as a tubal pregnancy or
an extrauterine pregnancy).
ectopic pregnancy cannot support the life of a fetus for very long. But an
ectopic pregnancy can grow large enough to rupture the area it occupies, cause
heavy bleeding, and endanger the mother. A woman with signs or symptoms of an
ectopic pregnancy requires immediate medical
An ectopic pregnancy can develop in different locations . In most ectopic pregnancies, the fertilized egg has
implanted in a fallopian tube.
In rare cases:
- The egg attaches and grows in an ovary, the
cervix, or the abdominal cavity (outside of the
reproductive system ).
- One or more eggs
grow in the uterus, and one or more grow in a fallopian tube, the cervix, or
the abdominal cavity. This is called a
Complications of ectopic pregnancy
pregnancy can damage the fallopian tube, which can make it difficult to become
pregnant in the future.
Ectopic pregnancies are usually detected
early enough to prevent deadly complications such as severe bleeding. A
ruptured ectopic pregnancy requires emergency surgery
to prevent heavy bleeding into the abdomen. The affected tube is partially or
fully removed. For more information, see Surgery.