Houston Fertility Center

What Are the Risk Factors and Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy?

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on February 17, 2017

Ectopic PregnancyInfertility treatments carry certain risks, just like any other medical procedure or treatment. At Houston Fertility Center, Dr. Sonja Kristiansen can review all the potential risks for couples seeking treatment. One risk associated with fertility medications and treatments is ectopic pregnancy. She can help patients understand the causes of ectopic pregnancy and symptoms to watch for. Patients who exhibit symptoms should contact our Houston, TX fertility center right away.

What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Sometimes, the embryo does not attach to the uterine wall. Instead, it attaches elsewhere in the reproductive system. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy. The majority of ectopic pregnancy are fertilized eggs that attached to the fallopian tube. Also known as a tubal pregnancy, ectopic pregnancies are fairly common.

Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy

In some cases, women experience normal pregnancy symptoms at first. Other symptoms, including the following, may indicate an ectopic pregnancy.

  • Waves of sharp, stabbing pain in the abdomen, pelvis, or even the shoulder or neck, that varies in intensity
  • Vaginal bleeding that is inconsistent with the flow of your normal periods
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting

What Causes Ectopic Pregnancy?

One or more of the following can cause an ectopic pregnancy:

  • A blocked fallopian tube due to inflammation or infection
  • Scar tissue from prior surgeries or infections
  • Abnormally shaped fallopian tube due to growths or birth defects

Certain factors may put women at a greater risk for an ectopic pregnancy. Fertility treatments and medication unfortunately carry a slight risk. Other risks may include:

  • Over 35 years in age
  • Prior ectopic pregnancy
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Prior abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Conception after a tubal ligation or with an IUD in place
  • Smoking
  • Endometriosis

How Is an Ectopic Pregnancy Treated?

Treatment options vary depending on how far along the pregnancy has advanced. With early detection, medications can be used to encourage the body to absorb the tissues. This method can preserve the fallopian tube, increasing chances of future conception.

If the tube has become damaged due to the ectopic pregnancy, we may need to perform emergency surgery to stop any bleeding. Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical method. We may use this method to repair or remove the damaged portion of the fallopian tube.

Will it Affect My Ability to Conceive again in the Future?

An ectopic pregnancy may reduce your ability to have a successful pregnancy. Several factors will impact your future fertility, including the cause of your ectopic pregnancy and your previous medical history. When we can leave the fallopian tubes in tact, patients have a greater chance of having a successful pregnancy in the future.

Learn More about Your Risk for an Ectopic Pregnancy

If you plan to undergo treatment for infertility, make sure you understand your risk for ectopic pregnancy and symptoms to watch for throughout your treatments. If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, contact Houston Fertility Center right away.

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