There are a lot of misconceptions about ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. Some people think that they are the same thing, but they are actually quite different. In this blog post, we will discuss the difference between an ectopic pregnancy vs miscarriage. We will also look at the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of each one so that you can be better informed about them.
One thing both of these types of pregnancy loss have in common is that they can be very traumatic and emotionally devastating. Pregnancy loss is always a hard thing to go through, no matter how far along you were at the time. You lose your baby along with all the hopes and dreams you had for your family. Always reach out to your health care provider or mental health therapist if you need help coping after a loss. You never have to go through a loss alone.
This article does not give medical advice. Please always check with medical professionals if you experience symptoms of a loss or have any questions or concerns about your health or your experience.
You may also want to read The Difference Between Stillborn and Miscarriage (Definition & Causes).
Table of Contents
An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus. This can happen in the fallopian tube, ovaries, or even the abdominal cavity. In most cases, an ectopic pregnancy will not progress to full term and will result in a miscarriage. A tubal pregnancy is the most common type of ectopic pregnancy and happens when the fertilized egg attaches in the fallopian tube. The diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy is done through a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and blood tests. This type of loss happens in the very early months of pregnancy and will not progress too far before becoming dangerous to the mother.
An ectopic pregnancy needs immediate medical treatment from healthcare professionals, as it can be a threat to the mother’s life. Go to the nearest emergency department if you doctor is not readily available to help. In certain cases, the doctor will need to remove the fallopian tube in order to save the life of the mother.
A ruptured ectopic pregnancy occurs when the ectopic pregnancy bursts. This can cause internal bleeding and severe pain and is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you ever are experiencing severe abdominal or pelvic pain, seek medical care immediately.
The most common symptom of an ectopic pregnancy is abdominal pain. If you are experiencing this type of pain, or any other symptoms of ectopic pregnancy, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Other symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy can include vaginal bleeding, breast tenderness, nausea or vomiting, shoulder pain, and feeling faint or dizzy.
Treatment Of An Ectopic Pregnancy
Methotrexate is a medication that is given to help the ectopic pregnancy dissolve. The use of methotrexate is only an option if the ectopic pregnancy is small and has not ruptured. This medication is usually given as an injection and you will need to be monitored by your healthcare team closely.
If the ectopic pregnancy has ruptured, you will need surgical procedure to stop the bleeding, repair any damage, and prevent any futher pregnancy complications. This can be done with a laparoscopic surgery or a laparotomy. A laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that removes the ectopic pregnancy. A laparotomy is a bigger surgery where they make a larger incision in your abdomen.
A tubal litigation is a surgery where they cut or tie off the fallopian tubes. This is usually done if you have had multiple ectopic pregnancies or if your fallopian tubes are damaged. If you have previously had an ectopic pregnancy, you may have a higher risk of having another one in the future. If you have had multiple ectopic pregnancies and have to have both tubes removed, you can still have a successful pregnancy using fertility treatment methods like IVF.
A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20 weeks of pregnancy. An early miscarriage is sometimes referred to by doctors as a spontaneous abortion. It is estimated that around 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage in the United States. Most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. Other causes include a hormonal imbalance, infections, and exposure to certain environmental factors.
A miscarriage is usually diagnosed through a pelvic exam, ultrasound scan, and blood tests. The most common symptom of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. This can range from light spotting to heavy or severe bleeding. If you are experiencing this, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Other signs of a miscarriage can include lower abdominal pain, cramping, and even some of the normal symptoms of pregnancy.
If your miscarriage happens when you are further along, you may have to delivery your baby. The delivery would be done vaginally or through a C-section. If you miscarry early on, your body can sometimes expel the pregnancy on its own. This process can take a few days to up to a week. You may experience heavy bleeding and cramping during this time. Make sure you check with your doctor about what to expect based on how far along you are.
You may also like reading Miscarriage Keepsake Jewelry (Gift Ideas for Loss of Baby).
Types of Miscarriage
A missed miscarriage occurs when the pregnancy is lost, but the woman’s body does not recognize the loss. There may be no symptoms of a missed miscarriage or the only symptom may be a lack of pregnancy symptoms. This type of miscarriage is usually picked up during a routine ultrasound examination.
A chemical pregnancy is when the pregnant woman has a positive pregnancy test, but then miscarries before anything can be seen on an ultrasound. This type of miscarriage usually happens within the first five to six weeks of pregnancy. Chemical pregnancies are a very early pregnancy loss. Sometimes the embryo implants in the uterus, just to be lost shortly after. This type of loss may even occur before some women know they are pregnant.
An incomplete miscarriage is when the woman has passed some of the pregnancy tissue, but not all of it. This type of miscarriage usually happens with heavy bleeding and cramping. You may need medical treatment to help your body finish the miscarriage.
Recurrent miscarriage is when you have three or more consecutive miscarriages. If you have had three or more miscarriages, it is important to speak with your doctor for additional testing. Most doctors will not do testing until you have had at least three miscarriages. It never hurts to go ahead and push for testing after one or two losses. Do not be afraid to speak up when you feel something is wrong.
Treatment Options For A Miscarriage
There is usually no treatment needed for a miscarriage. In most cases, the pregnancy will pass on its own. If you are having heavy bleeding or severe cramping, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with this. If the tissue does not pass on its own, you may need a surgical treatment known as a D&C (dilation and curettage). This is a procedure where the doctor dilates your cervix and then uses suction to remove the fetal tissue. The doctor can also prescribe a medication that can help you body complete the miscarriage.
You may also like Miscarriage Kit: What To Pack for Comfort After Pregnancy Loss and Does Bleeding Mean Miscarriage? (Early Signs & Symptoms).
Are There Risk Factors For Having A Pregnancy Loss?
There are several risk factors that may increase your chance of having a pregnancy loss. Some of these include:
– being over the age of 35
– a history of miscarriages or a previous ectopic pregnancy
– smoking cigarettes
– drinking alcohol during pregnancy
– using drugs during pregnancy
– certain medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid problems
– pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and fibroids
You can sometimes lower your risk factors by making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or drinking alcohol. If you have a medical condition, speak with your doctor about ways to control it during pregnancy. Always check with your doctor to see if they have any suggestions on things you can do to help increase your chances of carrying a pregnancy to term. Having the right patient care before and during your pregnancy is important. Please make sure you speak up for yourself in regards to any testing or other help you think you might need sustaining your pregnancy. Switch doctors if needed until you find one that is willing to listen to you and help you. Advocating for youself can be hard sometimes, but it is an important step to taking control of your health care.
What Happens After I Have A Pregnancy Loss?
You will likely be monitored by your healthcare provider to make sure your hcg levels return back to normal. HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin which is a pregnancy hormone. Your levels will be checked through blood tests and should return to zero within four to six weeks post-loss. If your levels do not return to normal, you may have something else going on and will need further testing. Make sure you have a follow-up appointment after your loss to make sure you are cleared to try to get pregnant again. Your doctor may also be able to give you options on treatment to help you stay pregnant in the future.
It is normal to feel a range of emotions after a pregnancy loss. You may feel sadness, anger, anxiety, or guilt. It is important to give yourself time to grieve and process your emotions. Some women find it helpful to talk with a therapist or counselor who specializes in perinatal mental health. Make sure you have your partner, trusted family members, or close friends you can lean on for emotional support after your loss. It is completely normal to want to try for another baby right away, while still missing the baby you lost. Pregnancy loss is full of complication and many conflicting emotions.
If you have had multiple losses, you may start to feel like you are never going to be able to have a healthy pregnancy. It is important to remember that most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy. If you have had multiple losses, speak with your doctor about ways to decrease your risk in future pregnancies. This can include getting special testing done to see why you keep having miscarriages. Doctors can prescribe medications for certain situations to help increase your chances of successfully having a normal pregnancy with a live birth.
If you are struggling after a pregnancy loss, please know that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you through this difficult time. Search online to see if there are organizations near you that help families have gone through loss. Support groups for loss families are a great option if you feel like you need to talk with others who understand what you are going through. You can reach out to others in the loss community as well. It is a community full of people who understand your feelings and listen without judgement.
Women can have normal pregnancies after experiencing a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. The important thing is to make sure you are both physically and emotionally ready to try again. Work with your healthcare provider to come up with a plan that is right for you. Do not feel pressured to try again until you are ready. Make sure you have a support system in place to help you through the ups and downs of trying to conceive after a loss. Pregnancy after loss is not easy and is full of many different challenges. A good plan and support system are critical!
You may also like reading How to Advocate for Yourself with Doctors After a Pregnancy Loss and 7 Ways To Reconnect With Your Partner After A Pregnancy Loss.
Having a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy can be a very difficult and emotionally trying time. If you are struggling with a loss, make sure to reach out for help. If you think you are experiencing a loss, call your doctor right away. They can help to confirm the diagnosis and give you information on what to do next. Remember, you are not alone in this and there are people who can help! Although a pregnancy loss of any kind can be hard to deal with, know that most women who miscarry can go on to have healthy pregnancies. If you have had multiple losses, talk with your doctor about ways to decrease your risk in future pregnancies. With the right support and care, you can have a successful pregnancy after loss.
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