Updated on 23 March 2023
Pregnancy is a roller coaster ride and not completely free of complications. Ectopic pregnancy is a serious condition that occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. It can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated promptly. One of the key factors in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy is recognizing its symptoms. But when do they typically start?
In this article, we'll explore the timeline of ectopic pregnancy symptoms, including how they differ from normal pregnancy symptoms and what to watch out for.
A ruptured ectopic pregnancy is one of the prominent causes of maternal mortality during the first trimester and is responsible for 10 to 15% of maternal mortality. Diagnosing ectopic pregnancy during early pregnancy is challenging, but advanced technology has made it possible. Ectopic pregnancy symptoms typically start between the 4th and 12th weeks of pregnancy.
However, some women may not experience any symptoms at first, while others may not realize they have an ectopic pregnancy until they have an early scan. When the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy start, it is important to get tests done to confirm if the pregnancy is ectopic or not. One advanced technology during early pregnancy that helps detect ectopic pregnancy is the determination of serum beta-subunit human chorionic gonadotropin levels.
We know when do ectopic pregnancy symptoms start, but it is not easy to identify initially if the symptoms are of normal or ectopic pregnancy. The symptoms mostly occur after seven weeks of amenorrhea, and diagnosis is difficult. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy:
The diagnosis is difficult in case the condition is confused with miscarriage, ovarian accident, and pelvic inflammatory disease. In most cases, the abdominal pain is sharp and lateral. As soon as there is abnormal bleeding and extreme pelvic pain, it is important to reach out to your doctor immediately.
However, if the fallopian tube ruptures, it is likely to cause extreme symptoms, which might even cause maternal death if not provided medical attention immediately. A ruptured fallopian tube is life-threatening as it can cause internal bleeding. As the ectopic pregnancy grows, it eventually leads to rupturing of the fallopian tubes causing symptoms such as:
While the cause of ectopic pregnancy is not always clear, there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing this condition. Some of the most common risk factors associated with ectopic pregnancy are:
Women who have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past are at a higher risk of having another one.
PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs and can cause scarring in the fallopian tubes, which can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Women who conceive through IVF are at a slightly higher risk of ectopic pregnancy.
This is a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it, which can cause scarring and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Smoking can damage the fallopian tubes and reduce the chances of a fertilized egg implanting in the uterus, which can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Women over the age of 35 are at a slightly higher risk of ectopic pregnancy.
It's important to note that many women who develop ectopic pregnancy do not have any of these risk factors. If experiencing any symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, it's essential to seek medical advice immediately.
It is not easy to detect or identify symptoms of ectopic pregnancy unless it becomes quite severe. However, advanced ultrasound methods and technology help in identifying ectopic pregnancy during the first trimester:
Pregnancy is confirmed by determining the concentration of β-human chorionic gonadotropin in the serum or urine. Although it is not a definitive test for detecting ectopic pregnancy, low β-hCG concentration often indicates the possibility of ectopic pregnancy.
This advanced ultrasound allows the doctor to see the lower abdomen, which helps identify and find the embryo's location. The pelvic ultrasound use high-frequency sound waves to create images of internal organs, which help the doctor identify any abnormalities. It creates an image of organs like the uterus, fallopian tube, ovaries, vagina, etc., hence pinpointing the embryo's exact location.
You may like: How to Detect Ectopic Pregnancy Early (mylofamily.com)
Ectopic pregnancy is one of the major contributors to maternal death, mostly when not identified timely and in case of the rupturing of fallopian tube. Identifying the early symptoms and getting a test done during the trimester is the easiest way to prevent any life-threatening consequences. As the ectopic pregnancy symptoms start showing between 2 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, it is important to check for any symptoms, pains and discomfort during the first trimester.
1. Tian Zhu. (2010). Ectopic Pregnancy. embryo.asu.edu
2. Tay JI, Moore J, Walker JJ. (2000). Ectopic pregnancy. NCBI
3. Kumar V, Gupta J. (2015). Tubal ectopic pregnancy. NCBI
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