An ectopic pregnancy (EP) occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside the uterine cavity. EP occurs in about 2% of pregnancies and can lead to ruptures and internal bleeding. Identified risk factors for EP include advanced maternal age (over 35 years), pelvic inflammatory disease, chlamydia infection, smoking, prior tubal surgery, induced ovulation and in vitro fertilization techniques, and endometriosis. Since EPs happen more frequently in the fallopian tube, they are also known as tubal pregnancies. However, they may also occur in the cervix, the abdominal cavity, the ovary, and even within a C-section scar.
An ectopic pregnancy may be diagnosed any time within the first five to 14 weeks of pregnancy. If the woman has a history of inflammatory disease in the pelvic area, has undergone fallopian reconstructive surgery, or had a C section, the resulting scar may prevent the egg's movement to the uterus, where it is supposed to implant. As a precautionary measure, women with these risk factors should have an early ultrasound to verify where the embryo has implanted.
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