When a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus, it is known as an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are also known as "tubal pregnancies" because, in most cases, the fertilized egg implants in one of the fallopian tubes.
In the early stages, an ectopic pregnancy may cause symptoms similar to those seen with a normal pregnancy, such as:
- Pelvic pain
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting.
Other early symptoms can include cramping on one side of the pelvis, breast tenderness, and nausea. If an ectopic pregnancy has ruptured, pain can occur in the pelvis, abdomen (stomach), or even the shoulder or neck.
Certain factors increase your risk of ectopic pregnancy, including:
- A history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Women whose mothers took diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant
- Sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
(To learn more about this topic, including how this type of pregnancy is diagnosed and why treatment is absolutely necessary, click Ectopic Pregnancy.)