At Apple Hill Gynecology, Dr. Marsha Bornt and her team have treated many patients with ectopic pregnancy, but we’ve also answered lots of questions that arise because of myths and misinformation. Your health is important, and we’re here to offer you the facts.
Myth: Ectopic pregnancies always occur in the Fallopian tubes
In a normal pregnancy, your ovary releases an egg, and meets a sperm, usually in your Fallopian tube. When the egg and sperm unite, they become a zygote, and the zygote travels through your Fallopian tube and becomes a morula. Once it gets to your uterus, it becomes a blastocyst, and it implants into the lining of your uterus.
An ectopic pregnancy happens whenever the fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the lining of your uterus. One of the first myths about ectopic pregnancy is that they always involve your Fallopian tubes. Although around 90% of all ectopic pregnancies happen in the Fallopian tubes, the other 10% can be in the abdomen, ovary, cervix, or on a Cesarean scar.
Because ectopic pregnancy happens in the Fallopian tubes so often,you may sometimes hear it referred to as a “tubal pregnancy.” But the fact is, ectopic pregnancy can occur in other areas.
Myth: Ectopic pregnancy is rare
Another myth is that ectopic pregnancy is rare. It is, in fact, the leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester. Out of 1,000 pregnancies, around 20 are ectopic pregnancies in the United States.
Myth: Ectopic pregnancies can be viable
As much as you might wish it, an ectopic pregnancy is not viable and not safe. When the fertilized egg begins to grow, if it is anywhere other than your uterus, there is risk of rupture and hemorrhage.
In other words, if a fertilized egg implants in your Fallopian tube, then begins to grow, and your Fallopian tube can’t stretch to accommodate that growth like your uterus can. Eventually, the Fallopian tube bursts, and you begin to bleed internally. This is extremely dangerous and is a medical emergency.
Myth: Ectopic pregnancies can be transplanted
A dangerous myth regarding ectopic pregnancies is that the fertilized egg can be removed from where it has implanted and placed in the uterus where it can grow safely. This is not true. The fertilized egg cannot be moved, and there is no medical procedure to attempt such a transplant.
Myth: Untreated ectopic pregnancy is not life-threatening
Another dangerous myth is that if you just let “nature take its course,” everything will be fine. As we’ve stated above, if you have an ectopic pregnancy, you are at risk of hemorrhage, and your life is at risk.
Additionally, if you survive a rupture, you may have difficulties getting pregnant again. When you hemorrhage, you may need emergency surgery to remove one or both of your Fallopian tubes. Even if you don’t need surgery, you may have scarring on your Fallopian tubes that makes getting pregnant more difficult.
A few more facts
All sexually active women are at risk for an ectopic pregnancy, and researchers don’t know why it happens sometimes. A few things that increase your risk include:
- Being 35 years or older
- Having a history of pelvic or abdominal surgery
- History of pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis
- Being pregnant even if you’ve had a tubal ligation or use an IUD
- Conception after using fertility drugs
- Being a smoker
- Having had a previous ectopic pregnancy
- Having a history of STDs
Your doctor can’t tell if you have an ectopic pregnancy by examining you. Instead, you may need to have a special kind of ultrasound or blood tests. If you have symptoms such as unusual bleeding or pain, you should see your doctor right away.
If you have questions about your risk of an ectopic pregnancy, or you have reason to suspect you have an ectopic pregnancy, schedule an appointment at Apple Hill Gynecology right away. Dr. Bornt is happy to answer your questions and provide necessary treatment.