Ectopic pregnancies, also known as tubal pregnancies, occur when a fetus develops outside of the womb, usually located inside a fallopian tube. Unfortunately, ectopic pregnancies cannot be saved, nor can the fetus be moved back into the uterus successfully. Why ectopic pregnancies occur remains unknown, but we do know that they occur as a result of the egg not succeeding in travelling from the ovary through the fallopian tube and arriving at its final resting place: the uterus. Some experts have suggested that ectopic pregnancies could be attributed to fallopian tube damage, resulting in too narrow a passageway for the egg to travel through.
As the fetus starts to grow, it can cause abdominal pain and excessive bleeding. The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are closely related to period pains. Other symptoms may include excessive sweating, feeling faint or dizzy, and excessive abdominal pain while lying down and/or diarrhea. Ectopic pregnancies sometimes miscarry naturally, but not always.
If left untreated, ectopic pregnancies in women can lead to tubal rupture, internal bleeding and possible death. Risks factors associated with ectopic pregnancies include pelvic inflammatory disease, which is most often caused by chlamydia. Other risks include having had abdominal surgery and/or caesarean sections in the past, smoking, women who are 40 years of age or older or have undergone in-vitro fertility treatment.
Ectopic pregnancies can be treated by abdominal surgery wherein the pregnancy and affected fallopian tube are removed, which is the quickest way to reduce blood loss. Women who experience repetitive ectopic pregnancies are treated with methotrexate, which prevents further tissue growth.