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Ectopic Pregnancy

This describes a pregnancy that occurs either in the Fallopian tube or, more rarely, in the abdominal cavity.

Sometimes called a tubal pregnancy, it occurs in about 1 in 150 pregnancies. If the pregnancy continues within the Fallopian tube, the tube may rupture, causing an internal haemorrhage, which may be life- threatening to the mother.

First symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are a missed period, mild pain low down in the abdomen coupled with occasional sharp, stabbing pains and possibly feelings of sickness or dizziness. There is a slightly increased incidence of ectopic pregnancy if you use a coil for contraception, in which case you might not even immediately suspect a pregnancy. The pain of an ectopic pregnancy can also be confused with that of appendicitis, urinary infection, or an ovarian cyst. Diagnosis may not occur until the pain is extreme, and should include a pregnancy test and perhaps an ultrasound scan.

Treatment involves surgery to remove the pregnancy, and to try and save the Fallopian tube. This may mean an emergency operation if diagnosis has been late.

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