What is Ectopic Pregnancy?

ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy can leave you feeling confused, dazed, and sad. You may feel overwhelmed with questions like, “what just happened?” or “what do I do now?”  

You don’t have to carry the weight of these questions alone. Care Pregnancy Resource Center is here to help you answer some of these questions and offer emotional support as you process this experience. 

What is ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows somewhere other than the uterus. It’s also often referred to as an extrauterine pregnancy because it will typically happen in the fallopian tube. As the fertilized egg grows, the fallopian tube is at risk of rupturing, which can cause major bleeding and can be life-threatening to the mother[1][2].

Because the fertilized egg has implanted outside of the uterus and cannot develop normally, it will eventually die and is therefore not a viable pregnancy[2].


It can be difficult to determine if you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy without an ultrasound because the initial symptoms feel like a normal pregnancy. Some early symptoms that may indicate an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Low back pain
  • Cramping on one side of the pelvis

If the egg continues to grow in the fallopian tube, it is likely that the tube will rupture. Symptoms of a ruptured fallopian tube include:

  • Sudden and severe pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Shoulder pain
  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

If you experience symptoms of a ruptured fallopian tube, it is important that you go to the emergency room right away[1][2]. 

How is ectopic pregnancy diagnosed and treated?

Apart from symptoms of a ruptured fallopian tube, it can be diagnosed by using ultrasound to determine where the egg is developing. Your doctor may also do a pelvic exam and blood testing[1]. 

Depending on a few factors, an extrauterine pregnancy can be treated with

  1. medication if the fertilized egg has not ruptured in the fallopian tube[1]
  2. surgery if the fallopian tube has ruptured[1]

Treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion. Induced abortion intentionally ends a viable pregnancy, while an ectopic pregnancy is one where the fertilized egg is unable to survive because of its location outside of the uterus; without treatment, the pregnancy becomes life-threatening to the mother[2]. 

Help after pregnancy loss

There can be incredible grief that comes with all kinds of pregnancy loss.

If you need help after a pregnancy loss, we’re here to journey through this time of healing with you, when you’re ready.

If you think you may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, it’s important that you call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away.


  1. Ectopic Pregnancy. Cleveland Clinic (2023, January, 18). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9687-ectopic-pregnancy
  2. Ectopic Pregnancy. Mayo Clinic (2022, March 12). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/symptoms-causes/syc-20372088.