Causes of an ectopic pregnancy
Ultrasounds and operations
An ectopic pregnancy (or 'out of place' pregnancy) occurs when the woman's egg is fertilised, but implants before it reaches her uterus. Most ectopic pregnancies involve the baby implanting in the fallopian tubes, (about 98%) but in a few cases the baby will implant outside the woman's uterus on her ovary or in her lower abdomen. It is estimated that about 1% of pregnancies are ectopic but that up to 50% of these spontaneously miscarry appearing like an early, inevitable miscarriage. Sometimes the ectopic pregnancy is naturally absorbed by the woman's body, making her unaware that she was actually pregnant.
For the remaining 50% of known ectopic pregnancies, the woman will often experience the normal signs of pregnancy, missing her period and having a positive pregnancy test, but then sometime between the 4th and 12th weeks of pregnancy (commonly around 5 to 8 weeks), she will start to feel pain in her lower abdomen, often on one side of her belly. (Be aware that the pain is not always on the same side that the pregnancy is.) Sometimes the pain will be quite severe and sudden, but it may start off being persistently mild to moderate, increasing in severity over a few hours or even a couple of days. The lower abdomen may be tender to touch and the belly may appear bloated.