An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside a woman's uterus (womb). Ectopic means "out of place."
Normally, after fertilization (i.e. after the egg and sperm have become united), an embryo (the combined egg and sperm) implants itself inside a woman's uterus and begins to grow and develop. Occasionally, however, the embryo may accidentally attach elsewhere along its path to the uterus and begin to grow in this abnormal site, where it does not have the normal environment to develop. Such sites may include the:
- Fallopian tubes (the tubes that lead from the ovaries to the uterus, down which a fertilized egg travels to implant itself in the womb). Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes.
- Cervix (the opening to the uterus)
Ovary(the organs that produce the eggs)
- Abdominal cavity
What Happens During Fertilization?
The uniting of the sperm and egg, called fertilization, occurs in a one of a woman's fallopian tubes. Fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the womb (uterus). The fertilized egg, now known as the embryo, floats down the
The Risks Of Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancies cannot lead to the healthy growth and delivery of a baby. There is not enough room or the proper environment outside the womb for the fetus to develop normally. In many cases, as the ectopic embryo starts to grow, it bursts the organ (usually the fallopian tube) that contains it, and is said to have "ruptured." This can cause bleeding, severe pain, and even death for the mother. Fortunately, testing can identify an ectopic pregnancy early, before it becomes dangerous. However, the mother must still cope with the unhappy termination of her pregnancy.
Facts About Ectopic Pregnancy