Ectopic pregnancy : all you need to know and 8 secrets to prevent it
As its name suggests, an ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes hence the name tubal pregnancy. 1 over 50 pregnancies are ectopic. Discover the causes and some secrets to avoid it
1) Causes of ectopic pregnancy
You may never know why you have an ectopic pregnancy. One of the causes could be a damaged fallopian tube. It could prevent the fertilized egg from entering your uterus, and let it implant itself in the fallopian tube or elsewhere.
But you are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy if you have any of the following conditions:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Scars from previous pelvic surgery
- If you had an ectopic pregnancy before
- An unsuccessful tubal ligation or tubal ligation reversal
- Use of drugs to boost fertility
- Infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization
2) Things that can increase the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy
- Anterior ectopic pregnancy
- Smoking in the pass or present. The more you smoke, the higher the risk. Experts suspect smoking affects the function of the fallopian tubes.
- A history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), often caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea.
- Endometriosis, which can cause scar tissue in or around the fallopian tubes.
- Exposure to chemical DES (diethylstilbestrol) before your birth.
3) How to reduce the risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy
a) Protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia can increase a woman’s chances of having an ectopic pregnancy. If you reduce your risk of contracting one of these diseases, you can reduce your risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.
b) Limit your number of sexual partners to reduce your risk of exposure
A single sperm fertilizes an egg so you will need to stay true to a man to avoid the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
c) Use a condom during sex
The condom is the only method of contraception that protects you against sexually transmitted infections.
d) Get STI treatment if you are infected
Get a quick treatment for infections. If you catch an STI, it is important to get treatment immediately. The sooner you are treated, the less likely you are to develop inflammation that could damage your reproductive system and increase your risk of developing ectopic pregnancies.
Common symptoms of STIs include abdominal pain, painful urine, vaginal disorders, abnormal vaginal bleeding, vaginal odor and pain during sex.
Some infections are asymptomatic. It is prudent to get tested regularly if you are sexually active.
e) Avoid smoking
Smoking can increase your risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. Stop smoking before trying to conceive to reduce your risk.
The more you smoke, the more likely you are to have an ectopic pregnancy, even if you reduce the number of cigarettes you always expose yourself to risk.
f) Get information about risk factors
There are many other factors that can put you at an above average risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy. If any of the following risk factors apply to you, it is especially important that you see a doctor as soon as you have reason to believe that you are pregnant because you will not be able to draw a distinction between a normal pregnancy and an ectopic using a home pregnancy test:
- Women who have had anterior ectopic pregnancy
- Women who become pregnant when they have an IUD (intrauterine device) or after a tubal ligation procedure (both cases are very rare)
- Women who have structural abnormalities of the fallopian tubes
- Women who have struggled with fertility problems, especially women treated with assisted reproductive technologies (IVF, ART, etc.)
- Women who have been exposed to chemical DES (diethylstilbestrol) before birth
g) Report persistent abdominal pain
If you have abdominal pain that does not go away after being treated for an ectopic pregnancy, tell your doctor immediately. This can be a sign of an infection, which could continue to increase your risk of having ectopic pregnancies if left untreated.
h) Have your future pregnancies monitored early
Although there is not much you can do to prevent another ectopic pregnancy, you can prevent future ectopic pregnancy from causing serious complications. If you have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past, you should consult your doctor for blood tests and ultrasounds as soon as you think you are pregnant again. This can help confirm early if your pregnancy is normal.
Most women who have ectopic pregnancies continue to have normal pregnancies, so don’t give up.