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Ectopic Pregnancy

UPMC Content 2

Most pregnancies happen in the uterus (womb). An ectopic (ek-TOP-ik) pregnancy is one that happens outside of the uterus. Often, an ectopic pregnancy happens in one of the fallopian (fa-LOW-pee-an) tubes, which run from the ovaries to the uterus.

If you have a positive pregnancy test, and the pregnancy cannot be seen on ultrasound, you may have an ectopic pregnancy. You also may have a normal pregnancy, but it’s too early to see the fetus by ultrasound.

You will have a blood test. The test will be repeated in 2 days. The results can help tell if you have an ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy is rare, but it is a serious condition. It can be life-threatening if you do not get medical care. An ectopic pregnancy can grow until it breaks through the fallopian tube. This is very painful. It can cause serious bleeding inside your lower belly (abdomen).

If this happens, you need to be treated in a hospital right away. An ectopic pregnancy is removed either by taking medicines or by having surgery.

Signs that you may have an ectopic pregnancy include:

  • Severe lower belly pain
  • Lower belly pain that gets worse
  • Shoulder pain
  • Fainting or dizzy spells
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding

If you have any of these problems, call your doctor or go to an emergency room right away.

Tests after treatment

After you are treated for an ectopic pregnancy, your doctor may have you come back for an ultrasound or blood tests. These tests are very important. Please return at the date and time listed below.


Test: ____________________________________________________

Place: ____________________________________________________

Return Date: ____________________________________________________

Return Time: ____________________________________________________

Losing a pregnancy

There is no right way to react to losing a pregnancy. Many women are overcome with grief. You and your partner may want to seek a counselor or pregnancy loss support group. Call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) for more information on these services.

See the UPMC patient education page,  Pregnancy Loss: How to Cope.


If you have any concerns about your diagnosis, treatment, or effects of the treatment, or if you have questions about future pregnancies, talk to your doctor.


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