Ask Hatty

Ectopic Pregnancy: what I wish I’d known

  • Ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of maternal death in early pregnancy
  • In the UK around 1 in 80 pregnancies is ectopic
  • An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants outside of the womb, usually in one of the Fallopian tubes.
  • The most common symptoms are:
  • Abdominal, pelvis, shoulder or neck pain, and sometimes severe pain on one side of the abdomen
    • light or heavy bleeding or discharge
    • dizziness or fainting
    • rectal pressure
  • However you may not experience any symptoms at all beyond a missed period
  • After a first ectopic pregnancy, there’s a 15% chance of you having a second. I wish I’d been more alert to this , instead of dismissing it as unlikely that it could happen to me twice in a row. In the end, I had to rely on a clever consultant to save my life at the eleventh hour.
  • Your doctor may not be able to detect an ectopic pregnancy with an ultrasound scan (mine couldn’t ) so it could go undetected until it ruptures your Fallopian tube, at which point you may be conscious enough to get yourself to hospital — or you may not.
  • If you find yourself with a positive pregnancy test but no obvious pregnancy symptoms, be mindful of ectopic pregnancy and don’t let your doctors dismiss it.

I can help you feel more in control of your fertility, so that you can get on with the rest of your life.