Risk Factors and Prevention of Ectopic Pregnancies

The reason for ectopic pregnancies is unknown, but damage caused to the fallopian tube could prevent the egg from reaching the uterus. The likelihood for an ectopic pregnancy is higher with the following risk factors:

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Risk Factors and Prevention of Ectopic Pregnancies

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy (15-20% probability)
  • Pregnancy through IVF or fertility drugs
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Certain STIs like chlamydia or gonorrhoea
  • Endometriosis
  • Ages 35 or older
  • Douching
  • Pregnancy after a tubal ligation
  • Previous abdominal or pelvic surgery (such as removing an ovarian cyst)
  • Prior C-section (known as caesarean scar ectopics, its rare, but the risk is higher with more than one C-section)

Women may still have an ectopic pregnancy despite not having any of the above risk factors.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy

Initially the symptoms are typical of early pregnancy like breast tenderness, fatigue and nausea but as the pregnancy progresses, women may experience:

  • Sudden severe and sharp pain in the pelvic or abdomen areas.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Shoulder pain.
  • Weakness or experiencing dizziness.
  • Fainting or feeling like you’re about to faint.

If your symptoms include mild pelvic pain and spotting it may be normal symptoms of early pregnancy. However, if you’re experiencing heavy bleeding accompanied by severe pelvic pain or feeling lightheaded or dizzy, you need to go to the emergency room immediately. That’s usually a sign of a late-stage ectopic pregnancy and you are at high risk of bursting the fallopian tube. By seeking treatment during early stages of an ectopic pregnancy, you are more likely of saving your fallopian tube and possibly your life.

Unfortunately, there is no definite way of preventing an ectopic pregnancy. However, being aware of the possible risk factors and avoiding conditions that may lead to scarring of your fallopian tubes can reduce the risk. If you’re pregnant and suspect you may be at risk, speak to your doctor about your concerns.


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  1. I have had three c-sections and had my tubes tied with the last one in 2017 and ever since I have been terrified of ectopic pregnancy. I’m so glad I came across your article so now I know exactly what to look for. Thank you so much!

    • Felicia it is very scary, I was sterilized in December 2013 when my son was born and I had an ectopic pregnancy in January 2018 – it is more common than you may think. Unfortunately I learned this the hard way.

    • Hi Lynne. This sounds horrible and I feel so sorry fir mommies that need to go through this pain. Luckily yiu mentioned the risk factors to look out for and it’s great to know there is ways to prevent this from happening.

    • It’s sad that ectopic pregnancy can’t be prevented. Thank you for listing out all the probable causes It would help a lot of woman to do their best to prevent this type of pregnancy. I’m sorry you had to go through it. Hope you’re all better now.

  2. A friend had 2 ectopic pregnancies and the second one was a medical emergency. Thankfully, she recovered well but could not have a child again. 🙁 Thanks for sharing an informative and insightful post, Lynne.

    • Oh that is awful Shilpa, I am so sorry to hear that. It is such an emotional upheaval already but to then be left not able to have children on top of that is terrible.

  3. Excellent article, Lynne. I did not know any of these. I feel quite relieved to never have needed to research this information and have managed to get pregnant normally at the age of 39. I had two risk factors (over 35 and an ex-social-smoker). I did have two miscarriages but I think they are far less traumatic than an ectopic pregnancy. My heart goes out to Moms who go through this.

  4. This is such a sensitive topic and I’m glad you address it on such a public platform. I, for one, didn’t really know much about ectopic pregnancy until ready your story, Lynne. Thank you for being so open and sharing about this to educate women who might not have access to this kind of information.

  5. I got pregnant for my first time when I was 26. It was an ectopic pregnancy and damaged my right tube. After trying again and it not working I went for a BSG test that suggested my left tube was blocked also…he said likely naturally. I am now 36, no children yet and haven’t used any protection in a decade…long even the rhythm method. I am beyond ready to start having children. Has anyone heard of a natural solution to unblock Fallopian tubes? While I’m a prime candidate for IVF, I still feel I should at least try to find a holistic approach first. Any thoughts?

  6. Ruweida Muhammad

    Great article! There’s not much information out there on this topic thanks for sharing. I’m scared because I’m using the IUD and I’ve heard that you can have an ecoptic pregnancy with the IUD… I’ve been getting lighter periods and getting abdominal cramps, and scared to have it checked out because of Covid.

    • Ruweida I would have it checked out. I had the IUD in for a few years about 20 years ago and it was fine for a while then it started going wrong and I had to have it taken out. That was the Mirena. Then after my daughter was born I had the copper IUD put in and it fell out (without me knowing) and I fell pregnant with my son. So my track record with IUD’s is not good.

  7. I had an ectopic pregnancy in July during the height of Covid. I still dont know why as I had none of the risk factors. I did not bleed nor did I have pain, I was already bleeding internally when I had my emergency procedure and my fallopian tube removed. If you feel something is wrong get ut checked out, nobody knows your body better than you…

    • I’m so sorry that you had to go through that during the pandemic, it is hard enough coping with your loss without additional stress, I know because I had the same procedure done in 2018 when I had my ectopic pregnancy. I wish you love and healing.

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