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Most patients aren't aware that about 2% of pregnancies are ectopic. An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that is growing outside the uterus, most often in the fallopian tubes. Unfortunately, there's no way to transplant an ectopic pregnancy into your uterus, so ending the pregnancy is the only option.
The most common cause of ectopic pregnancy is inflammation or scar tissue in the area where the pregnancy is trying to grow. Risk factors for this condition include a history of pelvic infections or surgery on the fallopian tubes. Also, if you're currently smoking or receiving fertility treatment, that increases the risk, too.
Because ectopic pregnancy is potentially very dangerous for you, it's important to be aware of early warning signs. Ectopic pregnancies often start without symptoms, but eventually women can experience severe abdominal and pelvic pain, and vaginal spotting or bleeding. Your doctor will use blood tests and ultrasounds to determine if your pregnancy is ectopic. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, ectopic pregnancy must be treated right away. The pregnancy can be ended through surgery or by a medication injection if it is diagnosed early enough. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, you need to be followed closely with blood tests to be sure that all of the pregnancy hormone is out of your body, especially if doing medical treatment. The good news is that the vast majority of next pregnancies grow in the uterus – just where they belong to start or expand your family.
Video production by Paige Bierma.