An ectopic pregnancy happens outside of the womb. It cannot survive. Most happen within a fallopian tube. It can also happen in the cervix, an ovary, or the belly.
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A problem with the fallopian tubes causes this to happen.
This problem is more common in women who are 40 years of age or older.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
A missed period is the first sign.
A woman may also have belly pain and spotty bleeding.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A pelvic exam will be done.
Blood tests and urine tests will be done to look for signs of pregnancy.
Pictures may be taken. This can be done with an ultrasound.
The goal of treatment is to remove the ectopic pregnancy. Choices are:
- Medicine to stop an early, unruptured pregnancy from progressing
- Surgery to remove a ruptured pregnancy or one that is not in the fallopian tube
- Surgery to remove a pregnancy from a fallopian tube and repair or remove the tube
There are no known guidelines to prevent an ectopic pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ectopic-pregnancy. Accessed October 15, 2020.
Ectopic pregnancy. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/abnormalities-of-pregnancy/ectopic-pregnancy. Accessed October 15, 2020.
Ectopic pregnancy. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/ectopic-pregnancy. Accessed October 15, 2020.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). Diagnosis and Management of Ectopic Pregnancy: Green-top Guideline No. 21. BJOG. 2016 Dec;123(13):e15-e55.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Elliot M. Levine, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 4/27/2021