General Article What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Topic Selected: Pregnancy Book Volume: 394

Ectopic pregnancy is a common, occasionally life-threatening condition that affects 1 in 80 pregnancies. Put very simply, it means “an out-of-place pregnancy”.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

It occurs when an ovum (egg) that has been fertilised implants (gets stuck) outside the cavity of the uterus (womb). The most common place for an ectopic pregnancy is the Fallopian tube but there are many other sites where an ectopic pregnancy can be located. It is, sadly, not possible to move an ectopic pregnancy into the uterus.

Each month, during the menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs where one of the ovaries produces an egg that is drawn into the end of the Fallopian tube by finger-like structures called fimbriae. The egg then makes its way along the Fallopian tube towards the uterus. During the course of this journey, if intercourse (sex) has occurred, it may encounter sperm, in which case it may become fertilised.

If it is fertilised, the egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus cal...

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