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What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Commonly referred to as an extrauterine pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy is a fairly common complication of pregnancy where a fertilized egg implants and begins to grow outside of the womb, typically in the fallopian tubes.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy? 

While ectopic pregnancies can occur without a known cause, they are often due to a health condition or prior medical procedure that has caused scarring in the fallopian tubes. Scarring can cause the fertilized egg to get stuck in the fallopian tubes where it will then implant.

Health conditions related to ectopic pregnancies include: 

  • Smoking
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), often related to abortion procedures provided in conjunction with an infection of chlamydia or gonorrhea 1
  • Endometriosis 
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals 
  • Medical treatments related to reproductive organs, such as abortion 2
  • Fertility treatments 

Can an ectopic pregnancy be moved to the uterus? 

Unfortunately, ectopic pregnancies are nonviable and cannot be moved to the uterus to grow as a normal pregnancy. If left untreated, ectopic pregnancies can cause severe bleeding and can be potentially fatal. 

What are the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy? 

Initially, ectopic pregnancies can often go unnoticed as they are sometimes asymptomatic or are accompanied by symptoms akin to a normal pregnancy, such as a missed period, nausea, or changes and tenderness in the breasts and nipples.

Symptoms typically become more noticeable the longer the fertilized egg grows in the fallopian tubes. 

Contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain. 

An ectopic pregnancy can rupture, causing internal bleeding.  Go to the nearest Emergency Room if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding (changing pads every hour or gushing)
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or passing out
  • Sudden severe abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Note that bleeding may or may not be present with these symptoms

How do you identify an ectopic pregnancy? 

Knowing if you’re pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy can be difficult, which is why it’s essential to receive an ultrasound scan upon receiving a positive pregnancy test. An ultrasound will be able to reveal the location of your pregnancy.

If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and considering abortion, it’s important to rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy as an abortion procedure could cause further complications. 

Schedule an ultrasound at your local pregnancy center! 

Palm Beach Women’s Clinic provides no-cost and confidential pregnancy testing, ultrasound scans, and STD/STI testing and treatment at both of our convenient locations in Palm Beach County! 


Schedule your appointment today.

1. Westergaard L, Phillipsen T, Scheibel J (1982). “Significance of cervical Chlamydia trachomatis infection in postabortal pelvic inflammatory disease.” Obstetrics and Gynecology, 68(5): 668-90; Ovigstad E, et al. (1983). “Pelvic inflammatory disease associated with Chlamydia trachomatis infection after therapeutic abortion.” Br J Vener Dis, 59: 189-92; Heisterberg L, et al. (1987). “The role of vaginal secretory immunoglobulin a, gardnerella vaginalis, anaerobes, and Chlamydia trachomatis in post abortal pelvic inflammatory disease.” Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 66(2): 99-102.

2. Bhattacharya, S. et al. Reproductive outcomes following induced abortion: a national register-based cohort study in Scotland. BMJ Open. 2, (2012).

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