The signs of an ectopic pregnancy
A few weeks after finding out she was pregnant, Janet Nansokwa started experiencing pain in her lower abdomen. Worried, she went to see her doctor who have medical tests confirmed the pain was due to an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg implants and begins to grow outside the uterus, typically in one of the fallopian tubes.
This is a medical emergency, as it can lead to serious complications and must be treated promptly. Here are some signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy:
Abdominal or pelvic pain: The most common symptom of an ectopic pregnancy is abdominal or pelvic pain, which may be sharp, stabbing, or may feel like one is cramping. The pain can range from mild to severe and may be on one side of the abdomen. Ectopic pregnancies can also cause vaginal bleeding, which may be similar to a period but can be lighter or heavier than usual. The bleeding may be continuous or intermittent.
Shoulder Pain: In some cases, the ectopic pregnancy may rupture the fallopian tube, leading to internal bleeding. This can cause referred pain in the shoulder area. Severe internal bleeding can lead to symptoms like weakness, dizziness, or fainting due to a drop in blood pressure. Some women with ectopic pregnancies may experience symptoms such as diarrhea or nausea.
Pain during bowel movements or urination: The presence of an ectopic pregnancy near the bladder or rectum can cause pain or discomfort during bowel movements or urination.
Missed menstrual period: In some cases, women may not realise they have an ectopic pregnancy because they may have missed a menstrual period and assume they are experiencing a normal delay.
It is important to note that these symptoms can vary from person to person, and not all individuals with an ectopic pregnancy will experience all of these symptoms. Additionally, some women may not have noticeable symptoms until the ectopic pregnancy has progressed and poses a greater risk.
If you suspect you have an ectopic pregnancy or experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent complications and protect your health.
An ectopic pregnancy can be diagnosed through a combination of physical exams, blood tests (measuring hCG levels), and imaging techniques like ultrasound. Treatment options may include medication to dissolve the pregnancy or surgical intervention to remove the ectopic pregnancy.