The signs of an ectopic pregnancy are like those of a threatened abortion. Bleeding from the uterus is often followed by cramping and bleeding from the tube. In a tubal pregnancy, spotting and cramping pain usually begin shortly after the first missed menstrual period. Gradual bleeding from the tube causes pain and pressure inside the pelvis. If rapid bleeding occurs because the tube has ruptured, the patient may experience a loss of blood pressure and shock.
Causes and Risk Factors
A woman who has an intrauterine device in place who becomes pregnant (a rare event) has a much higher than normal risk of an ectopic pregnancy. A woman's risk of an ectopic pregnancy also increases if she has had:
- A tubal disorder
- A prior ectopic pregnancy
- Exposure to DES
- An induced abortion
The most common site of an ectopic pregnancy is a uterine tube. In about half the cases, this type of ectopic pregnancy is caused by a previous tubal infection. Pregnancies that occur in the cervix, ovaries or abdominal cavity are rare.