A normal pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus (womb) of a woman. Any other attachment of the fertilized egg away from the uterus is an ectopic pregnancy. It actually means an out of place pregnancy. Simple!
An ectopic pregnancy commonly happens in the fallopian tube, a condition known as tubal pregnancy. Since the fallopian tube cannot hold a developing embryo, the embryo’s ultimate end is death, and its mother's life could be threatened. No ectopic pregnancy results in a live baby as the end result.
Oftentimes, the cause of an ectopic pregnancy cannot be determined. However, women who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases are highly susceptible to having ectopic pregnancies. The two most common STDs that can facilitate an ectopic pregnancy are Gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
Gonorrhea and Ectopic Pregnancy
Neisseria gonorrhea is the causative pathogen of gonorrhea and if left untreated, brings with it complications that could prove fatal in a woman. The N. gonorrhea can spread from the vagina and cervix to the mucous membranes of the womb and fallopian tubes.
The presence of the bacterium in those organs of the reproductive system can inflame the fallopian tubes and when this inflammation becomes recurrent, the tissues of the fallopian tubes become scarred and such a tube that has a fertilized egg traveling through it is unable to transport the fertilized egg to the uterus.
Chlamydia and Ectopic Pregnancy
As reported in Science Daily sometime in 2011, women who have had chlamydial infections are at a great risk of having ectopic pregnancies. This is as a result of the production of a particular protein known as PROKR2 in the fallopian tubes which happens with chlamydial infections.
PROKR2 in the fallopian tubes makes a pregnancy to get ectopic. Also, Chlamydia trachomatis can cause the fallopian tube to become scarred and blocked, thereby preventing the embryo from being moved to the uterus to get implanted. The embryo then could get stuck in the fallopian tube, resulting in tubal pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of an Ectopic Pregnancy
The following are signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy:
- Sharp pain in the abdomen and pelvis
- Very heavy or very light vaginal bleeding
- Pain in the shoulder and neck regions
Diagnosis of an Ectopic Pregnancy
In diagnosing for an ectopic pregnancy, a doctor can carry out a pelvic examination on a woman, to identify areas of swelling, pain, and tenderness, etc. He could take the woman through a pelvic ultrasound or most usefully, a transvaginal ultrasound.
A transvaginal ultrasound requires a small probe be inserted in the vagina for a close-up image of the reproductive system to be viewed on a monitor. Blood tests are also made to measure the pregnancy hormone in a woman. Blood tests help to identify an ectopic pregnancy that an ultrasound machine may not detect.
Women who are at a high risk of having ectopic pregnancies are:
- Women who have suffered from acute salpingitis in the past.
- Older women (30-39 years).
- Women who have a history of STDs that led to pelvic inflammatory diseases.
When an ectopic pregnancy is detected early, the woman is carefully monitored to see whether treatment is needed or not. Sometimes an ectopic pregnancy resolves itself without treatment. The monitoring involves going for regular blood tests in order to determine that the woman’s pregnancy hormone (the human chorionic gonadotropin) is going down.
This blood test continues until the hormone completely disappears from the blood. This will confirm that the pregnancy has taken care of itself by itself. To manage the vaginal bleeding, sanitary pads/towels are recommended, instead of tampons.
Treatment is given to prevent the pregnancy from growing large or from growing at all. The medicine given to achieve this is Methotrexate. In life-threatening or emergency cases, a surgery is performed to remove the pregnancy.
Prevention of Ectopic Pregnancy caused by an STD
To reduce your risk of pelvic inflammatory diseases as a result of sexually transmitted diseases, it is important to get tested often with your partner. Going for a test will help detect and treat the infections before they spread to cause harm to the reproductive organs. Having a pelvic inflammatory disease could put your fallopian tubes through bouts of inflammation which could get them scarred and blocked.
Using a condom during sex relatively prevents you from contracting and spreading sexually transmitted diseases. STDs make ectopic pregnancies possible, so, therefore, get tested today and complete your treatment for any STD being treated. This makes healing faster.