Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Pregnancy health centre

Select An Article

Ectopic pregnancy

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants somewhere other than the womb (uterus), usually in a fallopian tube - so it is sometimes called a tubal pregnancy.

The fertilised egg cannot develop properly outside the womb and its growth may damage the tube and surrounding structures. This may lead to loss of the pregnancy or a medical emergency for the pregnant woman.

An ectopic pregnancy is usually discovered between the 5th and 14th week of pregnancy.

Fallopian Tube

How common is ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is estimated to occur in up to 1 out of every 90 pregnancies.

What are the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

Common symptoms include:

If the fallopian tube ruptures, the pain and bleeding could be severe enough to cause fainting and occasionally may even be rapidly fatal.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above during pregnancy, seek medical advice straight away or go to accident and emergency. Getting to the hospital quickly is important to reduce the risk of haemorrhaging (severe bleeding) and to help preserve your fertility.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

If one of the fallopian tubes is damaged, it may not allow the fertilised egg to pass to the uterus causing the egg to implant in the fallopian tube or elsewhere.

What are the risk factors for ectopic pregnancy?

Risk factors for ectopic pregnancy include:

How is an ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

As many of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy resemble those of other conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose. Tests may include a urine pregnancy test, pelvic examination, blood tests and an ultrasound scan to view the condition of the uterus and fallopian tubes.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Parenting newsletter

Tips to inspire healthy habits.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
man in mirror
How smoking affects your looks & life
boost your metabolism
Foods to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
period_questions_answered
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman holding mouth
Common mouth problems
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergies
Allergy myths and facts
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver