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Ectopic pregnancy - Preventing ectopic pregnancy

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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You cannot always prevent ectopic pregnancy from occurring, but you can reduce your risk by protecting yourself against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

PID is thought to be the leading cause of ectopic pregnancies as it can damage your fallopian tubes.

PID is usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea, which starts in the vagina and spreads to the reproductive organs higher up.

The male condom is the most effective method of preventing STIs. It is also important to have regular sexual health check-ups:

  • when you start a relationship with a new partner
  • after having unprotected sex
  • after having sexual contact with someone who you think may have been infected with an STI
  • if you experience any symptoms of an STI

You can have a sexual health check-up by visiting your local genito-urinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic. To find your local clinic see the NHS Choices service directory.

Read more about the health benefits associated with using a condom and safe sex.

Stopping smoking if you smoke will also lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy as well as many other serious health conditions such as lung cancer, stroke and heart disease.

If you decide to stop smoking, your GP will be able to refer you to an NHS Stop Smoking Service, which will provide you with dedicated help and advice about the best ways to give up smoking. You can also call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 022 4332 (7am-11pm). The specially trained helpline staff will be able to offer you free expert advice and encouragement.

If you are committed to giving up smoking but do not want to be referred to a stop smoking service, your GP should be able to prescribe medical treatment to help with any withdrawal symptoms that you may experience after giving up.

For more information about giving up smoking, see treatment for quitting smoking and stop smoking.

Medical Review: March 14, 2012
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