There are numerous complications that can occur during pregnancy, which can sometimes lead to the death of the fetus in an early stage. One of the most common complications that leads to early maternal death would be an ectopic pregnancy. With an ectopic pregnancy, the fetus would usually die within the very first trimester of pregnancy. It is considered exceptionally rare for a fetus to survive and grow throughout the course of pregnancy in cases of an ectopic pregnancy. Almost 2% of pregnancies in the United States are estimated to be ectopic1.
What Is Ectopic Pregnancy?
With a normal pregnancy, sperm would fertilize an egg. The egg would then start to develop and travel through the fallopian tube until it reaches the uterus – once the egg reaches the uterus, it attaches to the wall of this structure. This is how pregnancy is supposed to happen – the egg then develops into a fetus within the uterus.
In some cases, however, the egg may not attach to the uterus, but rather to a structure that is found outside of the uterus. This is called an ectopic pregnancy. In approximately 97% of cases, the egg would attach to the fallopian tube, where it starts to grow and develop2. In the remaining 3%, the egg would attach to structures such as the uterine scars, the peritoneal cavity, the ovary, or the cervix.
Symptoms Associated With Ectopic Pregnancy
There are two primary symptoms usually associated with the presence of an ectopic pregnancy. This includes heavy bleeding from the vagina, as well as pain symptoms. In cases where a woman experiences pain, they would often describe the pain as dull, cramp-like, or very sharp. The specific pain symptoms tend to vary from woman to woman. Additionally, it should be noted that most women tend to experience only one of these symptoms when they have an ectopic pregnancy.
Complications Of Ectopic Pregnancy
Women are advised to be wary of symptoms that may indicate an ectopic pregnancy since this issue can lead to a number of complications – some of which may become life-threatening. While an ectopic pregnancy is known to cause the death of a fetus in the majority of cases, it should be noted that the pregnant woman’s life may also be in danger with this type of pregnancy.
In most cases, complications would occur due to a rupture in the structure where the egg has attached. This would lead to internal bleeding, which may cause a complication known as hypovolemic shock.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the egg does not attach to the uterus, leading to vaginal bleeding, along with pain symptoms. The condition usually causes the death of the fetus, within the first trimester in the majority of cases. Understanding the symptoms is crucial to ensure early detection and to avoid further complications that may develop in cases where the egg does not attach to the correct location within the female reproductive system.