Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg embeds itself outside of the womb, most commonly in the fallopian tube. The condition is rare, affecting only 1 out of every 100 pregnancies. An ectopic pregnancy will not develop into a baby.

You may have an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy if you:

  • have previously suffered from a pelvic inflammatory disease, such as chlamydia
  • have previously experienced ectopic pregnancy
  • have ever had surgery on your fallopian tubes
  • conceived through the use of IVF
  • had a contraceptive IUD (coil) fitted at the time of conception
  • are 35 or over
  • are a smoker
  • have an abnormally shaped fallopian tube

Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy

Some women do not experience any symptoms, and may not discover the pregnancy is ectopic until the ultrasound scan. Symptoms usually start between weeks five and 14. Common symptoms include:

  • one-sided abdominal pain – this pain may be severe and persistent
  • vaginal bleeding – this may be bright or dark red in colour, and may stop and start

Less common symptoms include:

  • shoulder tip pain – this pain is felt at the tip of your shoulder, where your arm begins. It is most commonly felt whilst lying down, and can be a sign that the ectopic pregnancy has caused internal bleeding
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • bowel pain – you may experience pain when passing stools
  • painful urination

When to seek medical help

You should always contact your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • a change to your menstrual cycle
  • unusual vaginal bleeding
  • persistent abdominal pain

You should seek immediate medical attention if:

  • feel lightheaded or dizzy
  • have sudden, sharp abdominal pain
  • look pale
  • have diarrhoea
  • feel sick
  • have an increased heart rate

The most severe symptom of ectopic pregnancy is known as “collapse”, this occurs when the fallopian tube ruptures, causing internal bleeding. If this happens, you require immediate medical assistance.

Treatment for ectopic pregnancy

If you are suffering from an ectopic pregnancy, it is not possible to save the pregnancy. The treatment offered will depend upon your individual situation, but it will be one of the following:

  • active monitoring – if you are experiencing only mild symptoms, your healthcare provider may wish to monitor you to see if the pregnancy resolves itself. It is common for the pregnancy to be absorbed into nearby tissue, negating the need for further treatment.
  • medication – if diagnosed early, medication can be used to treat ectopic pregnancy. The medication works by stopping the embryo from developing, you will be monitored closely after the medication has been given. You will be advised to use contraception for six months, because the medication used can increase the risk of developmental problems in a baby conceived soon after it is taken.
  • surgery – this is the most commonly used treatment for ectopic pregnancy. Keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) is used to investigate the fallopian tubes with a small camera. The surgeon may need to remove the fallopian tube containing the ectopic pregnancy.

After treatment, you may wish to visit your healthcare provider to discuss when it is safe to start trying to become pregnant again. Counselling services are available for parents dealing with loss, so contact your healthcare provider if you would like a referral to a counselling service.

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Vaginal Bleeding After Delivery; What’s Going on Down There?

Whether you enjoyed your pregnancy or were less than thrilled with your pregnancy symptoms, you have your little bundle of joy to show for it. You also get to say goodbye to the physical changes and challenges of pregnancy. But before you can return to your pre-pregnancy self, there are some post-partum symptoms you will have to deal with.

From your milk coming in, to your uterus contracting, there is a lot going on. For example, one symptom, which occurs after you give birth is lochia. Lochia is the vaginal discharge that occurs after you deliver.

You will have lochia even if you delivered via a C-section. Lochia consists of blood, mucus and small amounts of tissue from the uterus. The bleeding is heaviest for about the first ten days after giving birth. It tends to be dark red at first and will become pink, brown and eventually a yellowish-white discharge.

You may experience the discharge for several weeks after giving birth. Although it can vary, most women experience lochia for about two to four weeks. But the good news is the discharge gets lighter gradually. For example, after about a week, lochia may change to a light, watery, pink discharge. As it tapers off, some women may only have intermittent spotting for a few more weeks before it eventually stops.

Managing Lochia

There is no special management needed for lochia, but there are a few things to keep in mind. During the first few days after delivery when lochia is the heaviest, you’ll likely need a heavy duty sanitary pad. In order to prevent infection and irritation, make sure you change your pad at least every four hours if you had a perineal tear or an episiotomy. Tampons are a no-no since they can introduce bacteria and lead to an infection in your still recovering uterus.

In the first week after delivery, you may also want to skip wearing your favorite undies and outfits even if you fit into them immediately. Lochia can be pretty heavy in the first few days, and leaks are possible.

Also, give yourself permission to take it easy as you are recovering. Pregnancy and childbirth are not always a walk in the park. Doing too much too soon can increase discharge.

Keep in mind, just because you are experiencing vaginal bleeding, it does not mean you are protected from becoming pregnant. Ovulation is possible four weeks after birth. After you heal (in about four to six weeks), if you are up to having sex, be sure to use contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

How do I Know if There is a Problem?

In most cases, lochia occurs without complications and will gradually taper off. But there may be a problem if you are bleeding excessively. Excessive bleeding may be indicated by soaking a pad every hour or passing large clots. If you have excessive bleeding or pass large clots, always inform your healthcare provider.

If you have foul smelling lochia, chills or a fever, it can be a sign of an infection and requires medical attention. Don’t hesitate to call your healthcare provider if you think something may be wrong. It’s always better to be on the safe side.

Written by Mary Ann DePietro @ writerlady34

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.