Series Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms and When to Call 911

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on November 12, 2022

In a normal pregnancy, the egg is fertilized in your fallopian tube. It then travels through the tube and lands in the uterus, where it starts growing. But in an ectopic pregnancy, the egg doesn’t make it to your uterus. Usually, it gets stuck in your fallopian tube, either because of a problem with your tube or the egg.

Sometimes, the fertilized egg implants in your ovary, cervix, or somewhere else in your abdomen.


At first you may not have any symptoms of an early ectopic pregnancy. They may seem very similar to a normal pregnancy. You might miss your period and have discomfort in your belly and tenderness in your breasts.

Only about half of women with an ectopic pregnancy will have all three of the main signs: a missed period, vaginal bleeding, and belly pain.

Other common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include:

When to Call 911

Ectopic pregnancy can cause a fallopian tube to rupture. If that happens, you could have major pain and severe bleeding, and you would need medical care right away. Here are some possible signs of this:

  • Pain in your rectum or an intense urge to have a bowel movement could mean you’re bleeding internally.
  • Pain in your shoulder could also be an emergency. While it might not sound pregnancy-related, if one of your fallopian tubes bursts, blood can pool near your diaphragm and irritate nerves that run to your shoulder.
  • If your pain is severe, sharp, and sudden, or if you feel lightheaded or dizzy, or if you’ve fainted, call 911 immediately. These are all signs you could be going into shock.

Show Sources


Mayo Clinic. “Ectopic pregnancy.”

Medscape. “Ectopic pregnancy.”

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Ectopic Pregnancy.”

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