The What, When, Where, Why and How of a tubal pregnancies.


     What is a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy and what are the symptoms?

Pregnancy begins with a fertilized egg.  Normally the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus.  A tubal pregnancy grows outside the main cavity of the uterus. 

Early symptoms of a tubal pregnancy can be very similar to typical pregnancy symptoms. However, you may experience additional symptoms during a tubal pregnancy, including:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pain in your lower abdomen, pelvis and lower back
  • Dizziness or weakness

If your fallopian tube ruptures, the pain and bleeding could be severe enough to cause additional symptoms. These can include:

  • Fainting
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Shoulder pain
  • Rectal pressure or bowel problems

Symptoms often happen 6 to 8 weeks after the last normal menstrual period.

       When can a tubal pregnancy occur?

In most cases conditions that slow down or block the movement of the egg down your fallopian tube cause tubal pregnancies. This could happen because:

  • You have scar tissue, adhesions or inflammation from a prior pelvic surgery.
  • Your fallopian tubes have damage, such as from a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
  • You were born with an irregularly-shaped fallopian tube.
  • You have a growth blocking your fallopian tube.

Untreated STD’s can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).  That is why early detection and treatment are so important for your health.

I speak from experience, I contracted a STD as a teenager and had no symptoms at the time.  Years later I found out I was pregnant and shortly after I experienced intense pain on my left side.  An ultrasound revealed a tubal pregnancy and the following day I had surgery.  I lost my fallopian tube and the pregnancy.  A couple of years later I went through the WHOLE thing again…this time on my right side.

I would hate for you to go through what I did.  If you’ve been sexually active, I encourage you to be tested to be safe, not sorry.   

           Where can it happen?

The most common site is within the fallopian tube, however, tubal pregnancies can occur in the ovary, the abdomen, and in the lower portion of the uterus (the cervix).              

          Why did I have a tubal pregnancy?

  • A previous ectopic pregnancy.
  • A history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection that can cause scar tissue to form in your fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries and cervix. Surgery on your fallopian tubes (including tubal ligation) or on the other organs of your pelvic area.
  • A history of infertility.
  • Treatment for infertility with in vitro fertilization (IVF).
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you suspect you have a STD it is important to get tested.  Early detection and treatment can keep from scarring.
  • An IUD in place at the time of conception.
  • A history of smoking tobacco.
  • Your risk can also increase with age. People over age 35 have a higher risk than people under 35.

Up to 50% of people who experience an ectopic pregnancy don’t have any of the above risk factors. 

           How can I find out if I have a tubal pregnancy?

Most people don’t know that their pregnancy is ectopic until they visit their pregnancy care provider for a prenatal appointment, bloodwork or ultrasound.  An ultrasound will show whether or not you have a normal pregnancy or a tubal pregnancy.  A tubal pregnancy is a medical emergency.  Your fallopian tubes aren’t as flexible and can burst as the fertilized egg develops.  If this happens, it can cause severe, life-threatening internal bleeding.  This is dangerous and needs to be treated right away to avoid injury to your fallopian tube and other organs, internal bleeding and possibly, death.

If you are considering an abortion that is why it is so important to get an ultrasound prior to the abortion to confirm the pregnancy is not in your tubes.  The abortion pill is not effective for a tubal pregnancy.

Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center of Neosho offers free ultrasounds and free Chlamydia and Gonorrhea testing. Call us at 471.455.0100 to schedule an appointment.

  • No judgement
  • No pressure