Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg develops outside the womb.

This usually happens in one of the fallopian tubes which lead from your ovaries to your womb. If an egg implants there, it can't develop into a baby.

Ectopic pregnancy puts your health at risk too, and can be very serious if it isn't treated.

About 1 in 100 pregnancies are an ectopic pregnancy.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy

Symptoms usually start when you’re about 6 weeks pregnant and can include:

  • pain low down and on one side of your abdomen
  • bleeding from your vagina
  • pain in the tip of your shoulder
  • discomfort when going to the toilet
  • a brown watery discharge from your vagina

You might also have:

  • other more general symptoms such as pale skin and sweating
  • missed a period
  • some of the early signs of being pregnant, such as feeling tired or having sore breasts

It’s important to get medical help quickly if you have any of these symptoms.

If you have an ectopic pregnancy

Unfortunately, it's not possible to save an ectopic pregnancy. It will need to be removed:

  • during an operation
  • by taking a medicine prescribed by your doctor

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Last updated:
13 December 2022