What is an ectopic pregnancy and how do I know if I have one?
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that grows outside of the uterus, often in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies are very rare -- they occur in approximately 1-2% of pregnancies. Risk factors for having an ectopic pregnancy include having one in the past, having an IUD in place when you became pregnant, and previous pelvic surgery or tubal ligation (having your tubes tied).
You can make sure that your pregnancy is inside the uterus by having an ultrasound. If you have a medication abortion without having an ultrasound first, there is a small chance that you could have an undetected ectopic pregnancy. Medication abortion will not end an ectopic pregnancy, so if you do not pass tissue and blood after taking the misoprostol (the second medicine), you might have an ectopic pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancies can be a life-threatening situation if left untreated because if the pregnancy grows too large it can cause the fallopian tube to burst, which can cause severe bleeding. You should seek immediate medical care if you have worsening abdominal pain 24 hours after taking the medications, if you do not have bleeding within 24 hours after taking the medications, or if you continue to feel pregnant about 7 days after taking the medications.
Ectopic pregnancies are treated everywhere, even in places where abortion is restricted. Treatment for ectopic pregnancies depends on your particular situation and includes medications or surgery.