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An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg attaches itself to the fallopian tube, cervix, or abdominal cavity instead of making its way to the uterus. This causes the egg to grow abnormally even though a test may reveal the woman is pregnant.

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According to The American Academy of Family Physicians, ectopic pregnancies occur in about 1 out of every 50 pregnancies (20 out of 1,000.

If left untreated, ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening.

Causes Of Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies result from factors that are sometimes unclear. The following conditions have been linked with ectopic pregnancy:

  • Hormonal factors.
  • Genetic abnormalities.
  • Injury to fallopian tube due to previous medical condition, surgery, or infection.
  • Medical conditions that alter the structure and state of the fallopian tubes.

Who Is At Risk For Ectopic Pregnancy?

Although all sexually active women are at risk for ectopic pregnancies, your chances are higher if you;

  • Have reached the maternal age of 35 years or older.
  • Have a history of endometriosis.
  • Have a history of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Have a smoking history.
  • Have a history of ectopic pregnancies.
  • Have a history of sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia.

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Symptoms Of Ectopic Pregnancy

  • Nausea and breast soreness.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Sharp pain in the abdomen, shoulder or neck.

Diagnosis Of An Ectopic Pregnancy

Your doctor may confirm if you have an ectopic pregnancy using tests such as:

  • hCG blood test
  • Ultrasound scan

In the case of a medical emergency, your doctor may perform emergency surgery to provide immediate treatment.


There is no foolproof way to prevent ectopic pregnancies. However, you can reduce your risks by:

  • By having your partner wear condom during sex.
  • Quitting smoking or at least stopping before getting pregnant.


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Featured Image Source: Mayo Clinic
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This article was first published on 10th January 2021 and updated on March 11th, 2021 at 5:09 pm


My name is Samuel Okoruwa. I am an ardent researcher, reading is life and writing is fun.

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