Ectopic pregnancy symptoms
Signs of ectopic pregnancy
- Unusual vaginal bleeding that is different from your period, in that it is either heavier or lighter than usual, with a darker color and more watery composition.
- Pain on one side of the abdomen. This pain can be quite severe.
- Shoulder tip pain.
- If the fallopian tube ruptures, rapid onset of severe pain in the lower abdomen and pain in the shoulder.
- Bowel pain, sometimes with diarrhea and vomiting.
Ectopic pregnancy shoulder tip pain
Risk factors for ectopic pregnancy
- Previous diagnosis with chlamydia or pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Previous abdominal surgery or caesarean section.
- Fertility-assisted conception.
- Conception while using an intrauterine device (IUD).
- Conception when on the mini pill (a progesterone-only pill).
- Increased maternal age over 35 years.
- Smoking tobacco.
- A previous ectopic pregnancy.
- Damage to the fallopian tubes due to a ruptured appendix.
Ectopic pregnancy diagnosis
You should also see your doctor immediately if you experience unusual pregnancy symptoms such as cramping, pain or vaginal bleeding.
Ectopic pregnancy treatment
Future ectopic pregnancies
The likelihood of a repeat ectopic pregnancy increases with each subsequent ectopic pregnancy. Once you have had one ectopic pregnancy, you face an approximate 10% chance of having another. If one of the tubes ruptured or was badly damaged, your chances of conceiving again are reduced.
There is little you can do to prevent an ectopic pregnancy from happening in the future, although if your ectopic has been caused by a current chlamydia infection, you can have a course of antibiotics to clear it up and reduce further damage to your tubes.
Ectopic pregnancies can be very scary, but knowing the facts can help you spot a problem early in the pregnancy before it becomes life- threatening. Report any problems to your provider right away and remember there are effective treatments available if you do have an ectopic pregnancy.
Frequently asked questions about ectopic pregnancy
The general advice is to wait for at least 2 menstrual cycles before trying for another baby. But this depends on your individual circumstances. Speak with your healthcare provider about what is right for you.
I have none of the risk factors. Why would I have an ectopic pregnancy?
Around 50% of women who have an ectopic pregnancy have none of the risk factors. Sometimes there is a blockage or narrowing in the fallopian tubes which is undetectable.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.