Ectopic Pregnancy: What to Know?


Usually, a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. In contrast, an ectopic pregnancy (extrauterine pregnancy), the fertilized egg grows outside the womb (uterus), which is abnormal. The abnormal areas include either the fallopian tube, the ovaries, or in the lower part of your cervix (above the vagina).

In almost 90% of ectopic pregnancies, the egg attaches itself to a fallopian tube (tubal pregnancy).

Early typical symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain
  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • Sharp abdominal cramps
  • One side pain in the body
  • Dizziness or fatigue
  • Pain (shoulder, neck, and rectum)

An ectopic pregnancy can burst your fallopian tube. Emergency symptoms include significant pain, with or without severe bleeding. Call your doctor immediately if notice heavy vaginal bleeding with light-headedness, fainting, shoulder pain, or severe belly pain, especially on one side.


The chance of ectopic pregnancy increases if you have the following:

  • Have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Smoke 
  • Are older than 35
  • Have a sexually transmitted infection (STD)
  • Have scarring from pelvic surgery
  • Have a history of ectopic pregnancy
  • Use fertility drugs
  • Had fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF)


Your doctor will perform tests that include blood tests (for detecting a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)), and a pelvic exam. 

Also, your doctor might perform an ultrasound test to check your uterus and fallopian tubes in a detailed pattern.


An ectopic pregnancy is not replaceable in the uterus, so it always requires treatment. There are two methods used to treat ectopic pregnancy:

  • Medication: Methotrexate is the most used drug for treating the ectopic pregnancy. It stops the cells from growing more, this stops the pregnancy. Then the implanted egg is absorbed by the body over 4–6 weeks. 
  • Surgery: Emergency surgery is needed if the ectopic pregnancy has ruptured a tube. Sometimes surgery is required even though the fallopian tube is not ruptured. The ectopic pregnancy can be easily removed from the tube. Surgery is typically done with laparoscopy. This procedure uses a slender, lighted camera inserted through tiny cuts in the abdomen. It is done under general anesthesia. Several weeks of follow-up is required with each treatment.