Signs and Symptoms of Ectopic and Molar Pregnancy

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is a complication in pregnancy where the baby (medically defined as an embryo) implants outside the uterus. 1% of pregnancies will implant outside the uterus and out of those 1% – 98% occur in the Fallopian tube.  Except in rare circumstances, ectopic pregnancies are not viable and will end either in a miscarriage or medical intervention will be necessary through medication (methotrexate) or surgery may be necessary to prevent (or treat) Fallopian tube rupture. Due to medical diagnostic abilities most ectopic pregnancies are diagnosed between 5-8 weeks gestation.

Signs & Symptoms:

Early Signs:

  • Pain in lower abdomen – could feel like stomach or menstrual cramps
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain during bowel movement
  • Mild vaginal bleeding – due to falling progesterone levels

Later Signs:

  • Larger vaginal bleeding – again due to falling progesterone levels
  • Internal bleeding if tubes have ruptured
  • Pain in the lower back and pelvis
  • Shoulder pain (called ‘shoulder tip pain’ caused by free blood in abdomen)
  • Cramping on one side of the pelvis and tender to the touch

Molar Pregnancy

Molar pregnancy is an abnormal form of pregnancy, wherein a non-viable, fertilized egg implants in the uterus, and thereby converts normal pregnancy processes into pathological ones. A ‘complete mole’ is caused by 1 or 2 sperm combining with a damaged egg which contains no DNA. Complete hydatidiform moles have a risk of developing into a malignant tumor if left untreated. A molar pregnancy will typically end as a ‘spontaneous miscarriage’ or will be diagnosed as a ‘missed miscarriage’ – vary rarely will there be a viable baby.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • High levels of hCG ( human chorionic gonadotropin) in blood tests
  • Painful vaginal bleeding
  • Uterus that is larger then expected
  • Enlarged ovaries
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Ultrasound will show grape-like clusters in uterus

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Devan McGuinness

is the founder and executive director of the award-winning resource Unspoken Grief .

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