Pregnancy in which the embryo develops outside of the uterus. Normally, conception occurs not in the uterus but in the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg then moves down into the uterus where it should implant in the lining of the uterus. When the embryo implants anywhere else other than the uterine lining it is called an ectopic pregnancy. As the embryo grows outside of the uterus it is usually in a confined space, such as the fallopian tube. Eventually, the embryo enlarges the tube to the point of rupturing the fallopian tube, which causes hemorrhaging. This hemorrhaging can be so severe as to cause shock and death. Surgery is required to remove the misplaced embryo. The embryo itself is usually normal and would have continued to develop normally had it been implanted in the uterus, rather than the fallopian tube or other abnormal location.
Losing a child through an ectopic pregnancy can be very emotionally traumatizing. A woman who has lost a pregnancy due to ectopic location needs the same support as women who have lost pregnancies through miscarriage and other causes.
Ectopic (in the wrong place) pregnancy is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester and is a true emergency. Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include abdominal pain, missing a normal period, intermittent or scanty vaginal bleeding, shoulder pain, weakness, dizziness, and fainting. Significant abdominal pain (anywhere in the abdomen) in the first trimester should be reported to your doctor.