Most pregnancies progress smoothly, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is especially true for ectopic pregnancies. Such a pregnancy can never develop into a baby, and it can also be a dangerous situation for you. We will provide you with more information about this in this blog. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to schedule a consultation with our midwives.
What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. This is also known as an “extra-uterine gravidity (EUG).” In most ectopic pregnancies, the egg implants in a fallopian tube, but it can also be located in the corner of the uterus near the ovaries, within the ovaries themselves, or in the abdominal cavity. In any case, the situation is dangerous, and the egg can never develop into a baby. It is also not possible to relocate the egg from where it has implanted to the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies occur in fewer than 1 in 100 pregnancies.
Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy
If you experience symptoms due to an ectopic pregnancy, you will usually notice them between 5 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. You can recognize an ectopic pregnancy by various symptoms, such as persistent abdominal pain in one location that worsens over time. Vaginal bleeding, severe lower abdominal pain resembling strong menstrual cramps, or shoulder pain when lying down can also be symptoms. Other symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include sweating, fainting, nausea, vomiting, and a rapid pulse. You may also feel the urge to urinate even when nothing comes out when you are on the toilet.
An ectopic pregnancy can be caused by damage to one of the fallopian tubes. Infections, previous surgery on the fallopian tubes, or a prior ectopic pregnancy can cause such damage. The risk of such a pregnancy is also higher after previous abdominal surgery, which may have caused adhesions in the abdominal cavity, during pregnancy following sterilization, or if you have had a chlamydia infection, whether knowingly or unknowingly. If you have ever had chlamydia, always inform your midwife, even if you were treated for the infection at that time. We will then arrange for an early ultrasound to confirm that the pregnancy is in the uterus.
If you have symptoms that may indicate that the egg has not implanted in the uterus, we will immediately perform an ultrasound to determine if the egg is in the uterus. If there is a suspicion of an ectopic pregnancy, the hCG level in the blood will be measured with a blood test. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the hCG level, the pregnancy hormone, is often higher than normal but lower than in a healthy pregnancy.
If an ectopic pregnancy is confirmed, surgery or medication treatment will be scheduled. In some cases, a wait-and-see approach may be taken until the tissue resolves on its own. This is monitored weekly with blood tests. If the ectopic pregnancy is terminated outside the uterus through surgery that requires the removal of a fallopian tube, it may have implications for a future pregnancy. However, each situation and body is different, so we recommend discussing this with your gynecologist.
Becoming Pregnant Again After an Ectopic Pregnancy
If you have had an ectopic pregnancy before, you can still try to become pregnant again. Wait for at least one menstrual cycle unless you were treated with medication for the ectopic pregnancy, in which case it is advisable to wait for at least three months. If you become pregnant again, an early vaginal ultrasound will be performed to confirm that the egg has implanted correctly in the uterus. The risk of another ectopic pregnancy is higher for someone who has previously experienced it, approximately 15% to 20% higher.
Experiencing Symptoms or Have Questions? You Can Always Reach Out to Us!
Are you pregnant and experiencing symptoms that may indicate an ectopic pregnancy? Do not hesitate to contact us immediately. Even if you have had an ectopic pregnancy before and are now feeling extra concerned about your next pregnancy, you can always reach out to us with your questions. All our midwives are available at our two locations in Amsterdam-Zuid: Churchilllaan and Willemsparkweg.