Understanding Ectopic Pregnancy

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It sometimes happen that when a woman becomes pregnant, the ovum, instead of developing in the womb, becomes lodged in some abnormal position in the genital organs such as the fallopian tube which leads from the ovary to the womb; or the broad ligaments which support the womb, or rarely in the ovary. This is termed ectopic pregnancy. It is always a serious occurrence as the ovum cannot properly develop in any part other than the womb.

In a large majority of cases, development of the ovum proceeds for a few weeks or months after which the enveloping membrane ruptures causing a serious hemorrhage into the pelvic or abdominal cavity. This occurrence, if not fatal is likely to be followed by an inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity known as peritonitis. This condition generally demands surgical treatment.

Symptoms of Ectopic pregnancy:

These can be somewhat confusing to the individual especially if she has previously had one or two normal pregnancies.

*As a rule, one menstrual period is missed and the woman supposes herself to be pregnant.

*Shortly, morning sickness occurs and the breasts feel full confirming her opinion.

*A little later small irregular bleedings occur and these are usually followed or accompanied by sharp colicky pains of short duration, but severe enough to cause momentary faintness.

It is these latter symptoms which, though confusing to the individual suggest ectopic pregnancy to the physician.

The colicky pains are caused by contractions of the fallopian tube, or the section in which the impregnated ovum is growing. As these contraction pains increases there are further small losses of blood caused by partial separation of the membrane lining the uterus.

When the embryo has grown so large that it can no longer be accommodated by the tube, it bursts through its distended and thinned wall. This occurrence is usually accompanied by a severe cutting pain and the signs of profuse internal haemorrage.

These symptoms have been described somewhat in detail with the hope that some lives may be saved through early recognition of the symptoms.

The treatment is surgical and the need is urgent and imperative. If an operation can be performed before the distended tube ruptures, the individual may be spared a severe or even fatal hemorrhage.  If rupture occurred before assistance is obtained and the individual survived the initial hemorrhage; then there is still hope that her life may be spared.

The operation consists of the removal of the embryo with its surrounding membranes and the arrest of the hemorrhage by ligating or tying the torn blood vessels. Blood transfusion may also be required if the individual looses a lot of blood.

Take good care and pay keen attention to your body and any unusual signs once you become pregnant.  The life you save may be your very own.  Always pray and assist others in whatever way you can, remember, early recognition can save a life.

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