What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Here is a woman wondering What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies occur when the fertilized egg begins to grow outside of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy typically develops in the fallopian tubes, which is why they are sometimes referred to as tubal pregnancies.

Not only are ectopic pregnancies nonviable (meaning they cannot develop into a normal pregnancy) but they are also dangerous to the woman and require immediate treatment.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy? 

Ectopic pregnancies sometimes occur without cause, however, they are often caused by other medical conditions or exposures, such as…

  • Smoking
  • Endometriosis 
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Medical treatments, such as abortion  1
  • Fertility treatments 

Can an ectopic pregnancy be moved to the uterus? 

No — ectopic pregnancies cannot be moved. They are nonviable pregnancies, meaning there is no way for the fertilized egg to continue on as a healthy pregnancy to birth. If an ectopic pregnancy is detected, it’s vital that you receive treatment as soon as possible to prevent further health complications. 

How to know if you are pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy:

Early symptoms of pregnancy — including a missed period, nausea, breast sensitivity, and so on — are similar regardless of whether your pregnancy is ectopic or not. As an ectopic pregnancy develops, however, you may experience the following symptoms:
Unusual and prolonged vaginal bleeding

  • Dizziness
  • Significant abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Pain in the shoulder area

If you are experiencing symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, it is important to immediately contact a medical provider. Boston Center for Pregnancy Choices is not a medical facility. 

If you’ve recently taken a positive pregnancy test and would like to talk through your next steps, we recommend scheduling an appointment with us. Boston Center for Pregnancy Choices provides the following services at no cost to you:

  • Lab-quality pregnancy testing
  • Ultrasound referrals* 
  • Pregnancy options counseling 
  • After-abortion counseling
  • Material resources
  • Education

*These ultrasounds are generally not provided to those with symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy.


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1. Bhattacharya, S. et al. Reproductive outcomes following induced abortion: a national register-based cohort study in Scotland. BMJ Open. 2, (2012).

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