Risk Factors For An Ectopic Pregnancy

September 27, 2023

An ectopic pregnancy is a dangerous condition that warrants immediate medical attention. It occurs when a fertilized egg mistakenly implants itself in one of the fallopian tubes or elsewhere outside of the womb. When a fertilized egg attaches there, however, the egg will not develop into a fetus, and it's not possible to save the pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies don't always cause symptoms, but when they do, they include severe abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, brown watery discharge, and discomfort when urinating or defecating. These symptoms will typically present between one and three months of pregnancy. The longer the pregnancy progresses, the more dangerous it is for the mother.

It is, unfortunately, not always clear why a woman experiences an ectopic pregnancy. Sometimes it happens when there is a problem with the fallopian tubes, such as one of them being too narrow or blocked. However, other risk factors can increase a woman's risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. Learn about these now.

History Of Endometriosis

A significant factor that increases a woman's risk of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy is a condition known as endometriosis. This is a condition in which endometrium, the tissue that normally lines the womb, is found outside of the womb. Instead, it can grow around the ovaries and in the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis is a long-term condition that can significantly impact a woman's health and fertility. The severity of symptoms will vary from person to person, but typically involve significant pain in the lower abdominal area and back, as well as menstrual cycle abnormalities.

Keep reading to discover another uncomfortable medical condition that can increase a woman's risk of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy now.

History Of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Having a history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is another common risk factor for ectopic pregnancy. This condition results from inflammation in the female reproductive system, in the womb, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and urinary tract. It is typically caused by contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Pelvic inflammatory disease sometimes does not cause any obvious symptoms. However, most women with this condition report having heavier periods, bleeding between periods or after sex, pain in the lower abdomen, discomfort during sex, unusual vaginal discharge, and pain during urination. Some may also develop a fever, feel nauseous, and even experience vomiting. Of course, these can be symptoms of other conditions, and the only way of knowing for sure is to visit an obstetrician-gynecologist or general physician.

Get to know the risk factor related to age next.

Older Maternal Age

When a woman reaches thirty-five, she is considered to be of older maternal age, and after thirty-five, risks for women who conceive increase greatly. Women between thirty-five and forty years old are at the greatest risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, in addition to other complications. Many women considered 'older' have perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies, but it is still important to be aware of the risks of conceiving later in life.

The older a woman is, the more likely she is to have high blood pressure or diabetes. Furthermore, as a woman ages, the quality of her eggs and ovaries begins to decline. This is because females are born with a set number of eggs, which remain with them as they age. They are not constantly produced, as sperm is in males, and very little can be done to reverse the natural biological effects of aging on the reproductive system.

Get to know another risk factor for an ectopic pregnancy now.

History Of Pelvic Surgery

Women who have a history of pelvic surgery are also at a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. Pelvic surgeries can be conducted for a variety of reasons. Pelvic organ prolapse, for example, is a common condition that warrants surgery. It occurs when one of the reproductive organs in the pelvis slips out of its normal position and bulges. Prolapses are not life-threatening, but they can cause discomfort and severe pain. Surgery is necessary when pelvic exercises and lifestyle changes are ineffective. Women who have had an ectopic pregnancy and required surgical intervention in the past are also at an increased risk of having another ectopic pregnancy. Women who have conditions like endometriosis and need surgery to help mitigate their symptoms are at an incredibly high risk of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy as well.

MORE FROM HealthPrep