When it comes to trying to conceive, a variety of factors can put added stress and concern on the situation of dealing with fertility issues and pregnancy scares. While an ectopic pregnancy is a malady that may spark with fear and heartache, understanding how such an event could impact a future chance of conceiving can provide hope for women looking to eventually have a healthy and successful pregnancy in the future.
What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
This medical event happens when a fertilized egg originating inside a woman’s uterus escapes the uterine region and generates into an embryo and fetus in another area of the reproductive tract or abdominal cavity. In most instances, ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes (also medically referred to as tubal pregnancies), but might also do so inside an ovary, the cervix or somewhere in the abdomen. These abnormal pregnancies cannot be carried to full-term and may precipitate dangerous, if not potentially life-threatening complications such as fallopian tube rupture and massive internal bleeding.
Once an ectopic pregnancy is discovered, remedial efforts are centered on removing the tissue in question. Treatment methods include the administration of medications or the use of surgery. The specific treatment protocol will depend upon the size and location of the abnormal pregnancy. In cases where fallopian tube rupture has occurred, emergency removal of the stricken tube is often indicated.
What Increases A Woman’s Risk of Developing an Ectopic Pregnancy?
Sometimes, an ectopic pregnancy cannot be correlated to any one specific cause. However, the presence of certain medical problems or circumstances might increase a woman’s chances of being subjected to such an event. These factors include a past diagnosis of various sexually-transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, having undergone previous in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or previous damage to the fallopian tubes.
The Impact on Fertility
Ectopic pregnancies might reduce a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant again. In most instances, such facts are true because the event resulted in some type of fallopian tube damage including scarring or blockage. In addition, women who suffered less severe complications stand a better chance of conceiving a normal pregnancy and carrying the child to full-term.
Women who have experienced an ectopic pregnancy may still be able to conceive again. After a fallopian tube surgery, 70% of the patients can conceive naturally, after removal of a fallopian tube, 50-60% of affected women can become pregnant through the remaining fallopian tube. In cases where the fallopian tubes sustained little or insignificant damage, a woman is advised to allow several months for the structures to heal, resume intercourse and hope to conceive a typical pregnancy. That said, women who have sustained one ectopic pregnancy are at a much higher risk for developing another.
Women who experienced mild to moderate fallopian tube damage or blockage might conceive again by resuming intercourse after undergoing tubal sparing surgery. This medical procedure is performed to remove lingering scar tissue or alleviate any blockages.
All hope is not lost for women who have had their fallopian tubes removed. However, such subjects must undergo IVF, which involves the germination of an egg with sperm inside a laboratory. Once the embryo is fertilized, the structure is then placed inside a woman’s uterus with the hope that she will carry the pregnancy full-term.
It is important to note that IVF may be used in less severe manifestations as well. Typically, IVF is also an option for women who fear a recurrence or have other underlying health factors that place them at greater risk of developing another ectopic pregnancy. Furthermore, it is worth reiterating that IVF may also increase a woman’s chance of experiencing another ectopic pregnancy.