What is an ectopic pregnancy and how do you know you have one?
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that grows outside the womb, usually in a fallopian tube. It is a life threatening situation because if the pregnancy grows too large it can cause the tube burst. This must always be treated with an operation or medicines. A medical abortion does not treat a pregnancy outside the womb!
You can make sure that your pregnancy is inside the womb by having an ultrasound. If you use Mifepristone and Misoprostol to end a pregnancy and you do not do an ultrasound first, there is always a chance that you could have an undetected ectopic pregnancy. If you do not pass tissue and blood after taking the Misoprostol, you might have an ectopic pregnancy. If you have sudden severe pain in your belly or back, if you feel you might faint or if you do faint, or if you feel pain in the shoulder area, you might have an ectopic pregnancy that has burst and you should go to a hospital immediately. Ectopic pregnancies are treated everywhere, even in places where abortion is severely restricted.
More scientific information:
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg does not implant and grow in the uterus as usual, but instead implants and begins to grow elsewhere, usually in the fallopian tube 25 . The fallopian tube is a tiny passage that the fertilized egg passes through as it goes from the ovary to the uterus. If the pregnancy continues, the embryo will grow and become too large for the fallopian tube, causing the fallopian tube to burst. Ectopic pregnancies cannot be carried to term, and must be removed to save the life of the woman. Treatment by a gynaecologist is then necessary to ensure the health of the woman. If not treated, there is a risk of heavy internal bleeding due to rupturing of the fallopian tube.
A medical abortion using Mifepristone-Misoprostol does not cause ectopic pregnancy, but it does not treat an ectopic pregnancy either 7 . If a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, there are no additional complications associated with her doing a medical abortion. “…There is no evidence to suggest that medical abortion treatment leads to unusual complications for women with ectopic pregnancies 34 .
If an ectopic pregnancy goes untreated the embryo could continue to develop outside the uterus even after taking Mifepristone and Misoprostol 26 . It will continue to grow, and if not removed, will cause the fallopian tube to rupture when the embryo grows too large for the space. If not treated, there is a risk of heavy internal bleeding due to rupturing of the fallopian tube. Gynaecologists treat women for this condition in all countries, even in countries where access to abortion is very restricted.
A pregnant woman who is experiencing any of the following symptoms, may have an ectopic pregnancy 25 : abdominal or pelvic pain, cramping on one side of the pelvis, small amounts of unusual vaginal bleeding, breast soreness, nausea, lower back pain.