The classic signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include:
- abdominal pain
- the absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
- vaginal bleeding or intermittent bleeding (spotting)
The woman may not be aware that she is pregnant. These characteristic symptoms occur in ruptured ectopic pregnancies (those accompanied by severe internal bleeding) and non-ruptured ectopic pregnancies. However, while these symptoms are typical for an ectopic pregnancy, they do not mean an ectopic pregnancy is necessarily present and could represent other conditions. In fact, these symptoms also occur with a threatened abortion (miscarriage) in nonectopic pregnancies.
The signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy typically occur six to eight weeks after the last normal menstrual period, but they may occur later if the ectopic pregnancy is not located in the Fallopian tube. Other symptoms of pregnancy (for example, nausea and breast discomfort, etc.) may also be present in ectopic pregnancy. Weakness, dizziness, and a sense of passing out upon standing can (also termed near-syncope) be signs of serious internal bleeding and low blood pressure from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and require immediate medical attention. Unfortunately, as many as 15% to 20% of women with a bleeding ectopic pregnancy do not recognize they have symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. Their diagnosis is delayed until the woman shows signs of shock (for example, low blood pressure, weak and rapid pulse, pale skin and confusion) and often is brought to an emergency department; this situation is a medical emergency.
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