Ectopic Pregnancy – from the Greek word ektopas, ‘out of place’ – results when a fertilised egg becomes implanted anywhere outside the cavity of the womb (uterus).
It can be a life threatening condition affecting 1 in 100 pregnancies. Most ectopic pregnancies develop in the woman’s fallopian tubes but some cases occur in the ovary, cervix (neck of the womb) or anywhere inside the abdomen.
The fertilised egg cannot survive away from the protective, nourishing environment of the womb although it may continue to develop for several weeks.
As the fallopian tube is not large enough to accommodate a growing embryo, the thin wall of the fallopian tube will stretch causing pain in the lower abdomen and often vaginal bleeding.
This bleeding occurs from the thickened lining of the womb. If not recognised and treated, the tube may rupture, causing severe abdominal bleeding and pain.