Ectopic Pregnancy: What Are The Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy?

What are symptoms of a ectopic pregnancy? Is it possible for such a pregnancy to begin even if one takes the birth control pill faithfully (daily and on schedule)?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are similar to an intrauterine pregnancy in the early stages: missed menses, nausea, breast tenderness, vomiting and fatigue, but pain usually follows.

The pain can be a dull ache, which progresses into a sharp spasmodic pain, usually confined to either the left or the right lower quadrant in the pelvic area or generalized to the abdomen.

A pregnancy test may or may not be positive depending upon how advanced the pregnancy is.

Sometimes, a mass may be palpated on the right or left side, but the examiner must be very gentle due to the risk of rupturing the site of implantation.

Uterine bleeding is sometimes associated with an ectopic as well as pelvic or abdominal pain anytime, but especially with activity, intercourse, or any bearing down efforts. If the pregnancy has ruptured, one could expect all the signs and symptoms of acute blood loss such as fainting, shock, rapid pulse, low blood pressure and a drop in hemoglobin and hematocrit levels.

Ectopic pregnancy is the second leading cause of maternal death in the U.S.

The birth control pill (BCP) is virtually 100 percent effective (99.99 percent) if taken correctly, at approximately the same time every day providing that an episode of diarrhea or vomiting or another medication has not interfered with absorption. Ectopic pregnancy risk does not increase with BCP use but instead declines with use due to the fact that ovulation has ceased (in most cases).


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