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What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb.

In the UK, around one in 90 pregnancies is ectopic.

Sadly, it won’t develop into a baby and can endanger your health if left untreated.

What are the symptoms?

Signs of an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • a missed period and other signs of pregnancy
  • vaginal bleeding
  • feeling uncomfortable when peeing or pooing
  • tummy pain low down on one side
  • pain in the tip of your shoulder.

When should I see a GP?

Call your GP or NHS 111 if you have a combination of the symptoms above.

Even if you haven’t had a positive pregnancy test, an ectopic pregnancy can be serious, so it’s important to check.

If you have a sharp, sudden pain in your tummy and feel very dizzy or sick you should call 999 for an ambulance or visit an accident and emergency department.

To diagnose you, your doctor or health professional may ask you to do a pregnancy test. You may also be referred to a specialist clinic for an ultrasound scan or blood test.

What treatments are available?

If you are diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, you will be carefully monitored by health professionals.

If the fertilised egg doesn’t dissolve by itself, you may be given an injection of a medicine called methotrexate to stop the pregnancy growing.

You might also undergo keyhole surgery – a laparoscopy – to remove the fertilised egg. This would be done under general aesthetic, so you would be asleep during the procedure.

Will I be able to get pregnant again?

If you are going to be treated for an ectopic pregnancy, a health professional will tell you about the benefits and risks of each option depending on the results of the tests you have.

Some treatments might reduce your being able to conceive naturally in future but most women can still get pregnant after treatment.

Find more in-depth information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment:

Visit the NHS website.

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