What is an ectopic pregnancy and how do you know if you have one?

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that grows outside the womb, usually in a fallopian tube. It is a life-threatening situation because if the pregnancy grows too large, it can cause the tube to burst. An ectopic pregnancy must always be treated with an operation or medicines: A medical abortion does not affect a pregnancy outside the womb!

You can make sure that your pregnancy is inside the womb by having an ultrasound. If you use Mifepristone and Misoprostol to end a pregnancy and you do not do an ultrasound first, there is always a chance that you could have an undetected ectopic pregnancy. If you do not pass tissue and blood after taking the Misoprostol, this might indicate an ectopic pregnancy. Some signs that you may have an ectopic pregnancy which has burst are sudden or ongoing severe pain, feeling light-headed or fainting, or pain in your shoulders. If you have these emergency symptoms, you should seek medical help immediately. Ectopic pregnancies are treated everywhere, even in places where abortion is severely restricted.

More information:

A pregnant person who is experiencing any of the following symptoms, may have an ectopic pregnancy: abdominal or pelvic pain, cramping on one side of the pelvis, small amounts of unusual vaginal bleeding, breast soreness, nausea, or lower back pain.

A higher risk on ectopic pregnancy includes a history of: getting pregnant while using an IUD,  having had an ectopic pregnancy in the past, scarring from past infections or surgery of the female organs, scarring after a ruptured appendix, STI .

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg does not implant and grow in the uterus as usual, but instead implants and begins to grow elsewhere, usually in the fallopian tube. The fallopian tube is a tiny passage that the fertilized egg passes through as it goes from the ovary to the uterus. If the pregnancy continues, the embryo will grow and become too large for the fallopian tube, causing the fallopian tube to burst. Ectopic pregnancies cannot be carried to term and if left untreated, there is a risk of heavy internal bleeding due to rupturing of the fallopian tube, which can be life-threatening.

A medical abortion using Mifepristone-Misoprostol does not cause ectopic pregnancy, but it does not treat an ectopic pregnancy either. If an ectopic pregnancy goes untreated, the embryo can continue to develop outside the uterus even after taking Mifepristone and Misoprostol. There is no evidence to suggest that medical abortion treatment leads to unusual complications for women with ectopic pregnancies.