Every month we will identify the 6 most commonly asked questions about ectopic pregnancy and answer them. If you have any further questions which you cannot find answers on the website, please can you contact us.
Why does ectopic pregnancy cause bleeding?
The most common vaginal blood loss with an ectopic pregnancy is described as prune-juice-like. Fresh light vaginal bleeding can sometimes occur. The reason for that is thought to be due to low progesterone levels leading to breakdown of the uterine lining.
Will an ectopic pregnancy produce hCG?
bHCG is produced by a pregnancy, whether it is an ectopic or normal pregnancy, and is the basis of a pregnancy test either on urine or blood. The test can either be qualitative on urine giving a yes / no result or quantitative on a blood test giving a level of bHCG. A negative urinary test virtually rules out an ectopic pregnancy. The quantitative blood test can be used in conjunction with a transvaginal scan and physical assessment to decide on further management options (see Home Page).
Will an ectopic pregnancy show up on a pregnancy test?
All pregnancies produce bHCG but cannot give information as to the pregnancy location.
Can an ectopic pregnancy resolve itself? Do I need to see a doctor?
Ectopic pregnancy is a major cause of maternal death and also considerable morbidity. If there is any doubt you should seek medical advice without delay (What to do if you think that you have an ectopic pregnancy). Ectopic pregnancy can on occasions resolve without treatment but close assessment and follow up is mandatory.
Is ectopic pregnancy common?
Ectopic pregnancy is an increasingly common condition and is thought to occur in up to 1 in 80-100 pregnancies (see publication in the Bibliography section).
Do the cramps from ectopic pregnancy feel similar to cramps from a healthy pregnancy?
Lower pelvic discomfort can occur in a normal pregnancy, but pain is not normal. It may be due to other complications of pregnancy especially if accompanied with vaginal bleeding and you should consult your doctor without delay.