Ectopic pregnancy is one nightmare that every woman would definitely want to prevent because of its attendant complications and implications. What specifically causes ectopic pregnancy is still evading medical practitioners but one common cause has been established as fallopian tube damage.
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It is a scary fact that 1 out of every 10 pregnancies in Nigeria has been discovered in hospitals as ectopic in nature, this was disclosed to newsmen by Dr. Olayinka Ogunbode of the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan on Thursday. Dr. Ogunbode is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in UCH.
He explained that the damaged fallopian tube can cause the fertilized egg to get trapped in the damaged section of the fallopian tube resulting ectopic pregnancy as the embryo begins to grow there. He further explained some causes of this health condition in women, he said, “Common causes of fallopian tube damage that may lead to an ectopic pregnancy may be smoking by women.
“Women who smoke or who used to smoke have higher risks of ectopic pregnancy although this is not common in Nigerian women. “Smoking is thought to damage the fallopian tube’s ability to remove the fertilised egg toward the uterus.
“Pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID), such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia infections are other major causes common in African women; PID can create scar tissue in the fallopian tubes,” he said.
He also said other cases that could cause ectopic pregnancy includes surgery done to reverse a tubal ligation or to repair a scarred or blocked tube and that some signs of ectopic pregnancy are similar to normal pregnancy symptoms e.g. missed period, tender breasts, nausea, fatigue and increased urination.
“First signs of an ectopic pregnancy may include (usually) vaginal bleeding which may be light or heavy, abdominal pain or pelvic pain, that may start at about six to eight weeks after a missed period.
“As the pregnancy progresses, other symptoms may develop, which may include stomach and pelvic pain which may get worse with straining or movement.
“The pain may occur sharply on one side at first and then spread to the pelvic region, with severe vaginal bleeding, dizziness, signs of shock, shoulder pain which is caused by bleeding into the abdomen,’’ he said.
Dr. Ogunbode explained that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) could also cause damage to fallopian tubes and should therefore be guided against by women generally.
Surgery is the only solution in the management of ectopic pregnancies, he said, adding that early detection and intervention can always save the life of the patient.
“When an ectopic pregnancy is located in an unruptured fallopian tube, every attempt is made to remove the pregnancy without removing or damaging the tube.
“Emergency surgery is needed for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy,” he said.