Welcome to Laurie’s Big Blog – November 2023

Every month we will identify the 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.

Can ectopic pregnancy have a heartbeat?

On vaginal ultrasound scans, it is sometimes possible to see cardiac activity but this cannot be heard. If fetal cardiac activity is seen it is considered to be a contradiction for the use of medical treatment with methotrexate. See symptoms and treatments on the Ectopic Pregnancy Foundation website.


Is the baby alive in an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is an embryo and not a fully formed foetus.


What’s the difference between ectopic pregnancy and ovarian cyst symptoms?

Although ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancy may both present with unilateral lower abdominal pain there are differences in other presenting symptoms. With an ectopic pregnancy a period may be late, a pregnancy test and qualities bHCG are positive and there may be vaginal discharge (prune juice) or fresh bleeding can also occur. These symptoms are not present with an ovarian cyst. See symptoms and presentation on the Ectopic Pregnancy Foundation website.


Do all nations deliver the same care management for women with ectopic pregnancy?

The diagnosis and treatment options that are available are dependent on the resources available, such as transvaginal ultrasound and b HCG assays. The availability of treatment options such as methotrexate and laparoscopic equipment also depends on whether there are staff members who have the required training. In most parts of the world, medical or laparoscopic surgery is the preferred treatment option. However, in third-world countries, such options may not be feasible.


How long does it take to recover from ectopic pregnancy?

The recovery time after surgery depends on the type of surgery that you have undergone. If you have undergone laparoscopic surgery, then you will be discharged from the hospital within a day and can recover within a few days. However, if the surgery is done through laparotomy (which involves opening the abdomen usually through a bikini line incision), then the recovery time will be longer, usually a few days in the hospital and then at home. Painkillers are usually prescribed for pain relief, and it may take up to six weeks for full recovery. You can find further information about operations for ectopic pregnancy on the Ectopic Pregnancy Foundation website.