Welcome to Laurie’s Big Blog – January 2022

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 to on the website, please can you contact us.

What are the early signs I’m having an ectopic pregnancy?

The early signs of an ectopic pregnancy include a missed or late period, lower or pelvic discomfort or pain. The pain is usually constant rather than cramping and tends to be one-sided . Vaginal discharge is common and tends to be dark brown (“prune juice”) rather than fresh bleeding.

Can I tell if I have an ectopic pregnancy from the colour of my discharge?

Ectopic pregnancy cannot be diagnosed solely on vaginal discharge. The vaginal discharge with an ectopic pregnancy tends to be dark brown (“prune juice”) rather than frank fresh bleeding which could be misdiagnosed as a period.

I’m experiencing shoulder pain early in the pregnancy. Does this mean it will be an ectopic pregnancy?

Vague pains are common in early pregnancy. Shoulder tip pain is a late symptom of ectopic pregnancy and occurs when leaks or ruptures leading to bleeding into the abdomen with blood tracking up under the diaphragm when the woman lies flat causing referred pain to the shoulder tip.

Can I have an ectopic pregnancy twice?

Although a pregnancy after a previous ectopic pregnancy is inter-uterine, a second ectopic pregnancy can occur and the risk is said to be about 10%. Hence it is important to seek medical advice early to exclude another ectopic pregnancy.

Is lower abdominal pain a symptom of ectopic pregnancy?

A presenting symptom of ectopic pregnancy is lower abdominal or pelvic disconnect or pain. The pain is usually constant rather than cramping (which is more common with a miscarriage) and is usually unilateral (one-sided). It is not possible to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy based solely on the symptoms of pain.

Does PCOS increase my risk of ectopic pregnancy?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common gynaecological condition affecting between 5 to 20% of women. It is a condition associated with ectopic pregnancy. The diagnosis is made by the appearance of the ovaries at trans-vaginal scan and also by blood tests. PCOS is associated with infertility problems, and early pregnancy issues including early pregnancy loss and ectopic pregnancy. In a study of woman with the diagnosis of PCOS who were undergoing assisted fertility treatment (which in itself is a risk factor for an ectopic pregnancy) it was found that these women had a three fold increase in ectopic pregnancy.