Houston Fertility Center

What Are the Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy?

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on May 16, 2020

An illustration of a woman's reproductive systemInfertility treatments can help couples who have struggled to become pregnant overcome their fertility challenges and achieve their dreams of growing their families.

Ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus, can make it difficult to have a successful pregnancy. Dr. Sonja B. Kristiansen provides a wide range of infertility treatments to help couples conceive after ectopic pregnancy.

Today, we'd like to take a closer look at ectopic pregnancy symptoms facing our patients in Houston, TX and neighboring Sugar Land.

What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

In a normal pregnancy, a fertilized egg attaches to the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg attaches in a place other than inside the uterus. This may be in the abdominal cavity, an ovary, the cervix, or, most commonly, in a fallopian tube.

The fertilized egg cannot survive in an ectopic pregnancy. If left untreated or unnoticed, the fertilized egg may continue to grow until it becomes life-threatening.

Understanding the symptoms can help women recognize when they may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy so that they can seek medical intervention as soon as possible.

Possible Early Symptoms

Some women may not experience any symptoms during the early stages of an ectopic pregnancy. Those who do experience symptoms early on may have the symptoms common to early pregnancy and not realize they are having an ectopic pregnancy. These symptoms include:

  • A missed period
  • Nausea
  • Tender breasts

First Symptoms

As the ectopic pregnancy progresses, it can lead to more serious symptoms. For some women, these symptoms will be their first indication of ectopic pregnancy. Symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Shoulder pain if blood leaks from the fallopian tube
  • The urge to have a bowel movement, also caused by blood leaking from the fallopian tube

Emergency Symptoms

Ectopic pregnancies cannot continue like a normal pregnancy and there is no way to transfer the fertilized egg to the uterus.

If left untreated, the fertilized egg may continue to grow in the fallopian tube and rupture the tube. This often leads to heavy bleeding within the abdomen as well as the following symptoms:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Shoulder pain caused by blood in the abdomen
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe pelvic pain
  • Vaginal bleeding

Seek Treatment

If you believe you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Untreated ectopic pregnancies in the fallopian tubes can cause permanent damage if rupture occurs; it can also cause heavy, life-threatening bleeding.

Ectopic pregnancies may be treated with medication or surgery, if medication is not sufficient for treating the ectopic pregnancy or if the fallopian tubes have ruptured or become damaged.

Are Infertility Treatments Right for You?

After an ectopic pregnancy, many of our Huston patients want to know if it's still possible to have a child. While it is for many women, some will need help through infertility treatment. To find out if infertility treatment is right for you, please call (713) 225-5375 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kristiansen.

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9055 Katy Fwy
Ste 450
Houston, TX 77024

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