Myths and facts about ectopic pregnancy
This type of pregnancy is rare and usually occurs in women who have had previous problems in the fallopian tubes, such as infections or endometriosis
Ectopic pregnancy, one in which the embryo implants itself outside the uterus, is sometimes related to fertility treatments. Nevertheless, this is a mistaken association: undergoing fertility treatment does not increase the risk of having a pregnancy of this kind. What often happens is that the women who undergo such treatments have already suffered some previous problems in the fallopian tubes, which sometimes leads to an ectopic pregnancy.
In most ectopic pregnancies, the embryo implants itself in the fallopian tubes-the very place where fertilisation occurs-though in some cases, the embryo can develop in the cervix, ovary, or the abdominal cavity.
“Some medical interventions, infections or endometriosis itself can affect the fallopian tubes and be responsible for difficulties in pregnancy or result in an ectopic pregnancy,” explains Dr. Marta Trullenque, a specialist on Eugin Clinic’s medical team. “Although these cases are rare, ectopic pregnancies affect approximately 1 in 100 pregnancies,” she adds. Moreover, when it has occurred once, there is a 13% chance of it happening again.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
It is not always easy to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, as its symptoms are different in each woman: some have abdominal pain, others may present minor bleeding, and there are those who have both. “Women who undergo fertility treatment have blood check-ups and ultrasound scans from the very beginning, and for this reason, in their case, it is easier to detect,” said the doctor.
Ectopic pregnancies are detected by means of a blood test and an ultrasound. In women who have undergone artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation, it is possible to detect it from 14 days on. While in normal pregnancies the beta-hCG value doubles after this period, in ectopic cases this value presents a more irregular and slower behaviour pattern.
The ultrasound is also essential to confirm such pregnancies. By means of its images it is possible to check that there is no gestational sac in the uterus- the image that enables us to confirm a pregnancy-and in some cases you can get to observe in more detail a small gestational sac implanted in the fallopian tube.
Termination of pregnancy
“When an ectopic pregnancy is detected, it is necessary to terminate the pregnancy with either drug or surgical treatment,” explains the doctor. “The drug option is the ideal one, especially if you act early, as it will reduce the risks stemming from surgery. In some cases, in addition to continuing medical treatment, it will also be necessary to resort to surgery. After terminating the pregnancy, you must wait at least six months before trying to get pregnant again” she concludes.
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