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Ectopic Pregnancy

What Are The Symptoms Of Ectopic Pregnancy?

Last modified: 
22/03/2012 - 11:19

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

If a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, she may experience the typical early pregnancy symptoms, including nausea and breast tenderness. Or, she may have no early symptoms at all and may not even realize that she is pregnant. About a week after the first missed menstrual period, one may notice:

  • Slight vaginal bleeding that is usually brown in color. Women often mistake this bleeding for a normal menstrual period.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen, felt mainly on one side.

If you experience these symptoms, especially if you know you are pregnant or suspects you might be, you should see a doctor right away. Unfortunately, the embryo cannot be saved in the nearly all ectopic pregnancy cases. However, prompt treatment can keep the fallopian tube from rupturing, saving your fertility and perhaps your life.

Without treatment, the symptoms of the ectopic pregnancy will worsen over several days or weeks. They include:

  • Severe pelvic pain
  • Shoulder pain caused by blood from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy pressing on the diaphragm, the large muscle that separates the abdominal and chest cavities
  • Faintness or dizziness caused by blood loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lower back pain

A ruptured ectopic pregnancy is a serious condition and can be life threatening. If you experience symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, see your doctor or go to a hospital emergency room right away.

If you would like more information on symptoms you should watch for during pregnancy and good prenatal care, go to Is My Pregnancy Going Well?.

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Ectopic Pregnancy

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.