An ectopic pregnancy is, by definition: the fertilized egg attaches (or implants) someplace other than the uterus, most often in...
An ectopic pregnancy is, by definition:
the fertilized egg attaches (or implants) someplace other than the uterus, most often in the fallopian tube. (This is why it is sometimes called a tubal pregnancy.) In rare cases, the egg implants in an ovary, the cervix, or the belly.
Unfortunately, in the first few weeks of an ectopic pregnancy, the symptoms present the same as a regular pregnancy. Those swollen breasts, extreme moments of exhaustion and bloating are impossible to differentiate. However, an ectopic pregnancy presents with two key differences:
  • Pelvic/belly pain. It may feel worse when you move, stretch or strain. It may start as a sharp pain on one side and spread throughout your abdomen.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Your doctor will do a pelvic exam, a blood test and/or an ultrasound to confirm a regular pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy or something else all together. Unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy cannot result in a healthy, live baby. Without treatment, the mother can die due to a ruptured tube and internal bleeding. The ectopic pregnancy is treated by either a shot of methotrexate or surgery. Thumbs UpThe good news is that a novel biomarker may actually help us diagnose ectopic pregnancies even earlier, thus saving moms and their reproductive parts. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism gave hope to mothers and doctors world-wide with its findings.
Theorizing that trophoblast cells, which play a key role in implantation of the embryo, are different when implantation takes place outside the uterus, researchers posited that lower serum placental growth factor (PIGF) levels in these cells might denote ectopic pregnancy. If so, an earlier, yet still reliable, test could be developed.
In short: No test yet exists. However, when studies find things like this, it is always good news for moms and babies. Considering that ectopic pregnancies can further affect fertility, especially if it isn't diagnosed until you lose a tube, this finding could help save lives and create more for generations to come. As an aside, smoking increases your risk of ectopic pregnancies. You should quit yesterday. Have you ever had an ectopic pregnancy? Do you think a blood test would have helped diagnose the tubal pregnancy earlier than when you were diagnosed? Photo Credit: Joel Telling.

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