Today’s topic is rather sensitive, but it needs attention because not a lot of people know about it.
I know most of us are always happy when our periods pitch up because we are not in a space to have children yet or never. However, sometimes, this does not always mean you are safe from pregnancy.
What then is an ectopic pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. As the fertilised egg grows, it can burst (rupture) and cause life-threatening bleeding. If this happens, you will need medical care right away. If you do not treat it, it can be deadly. With this, it is important to know that the fertilized egg in an ectopic pregnancy is not “viable”.
What this means is it is impossible for the egg to survive and grow into a foetus and eventually a baby that can survive in or outside your body.
It will always result in pregnancy loss. This is because the egg cannot get the sufficient blood supply and support it needs to grow outside of the uterus. This then means you will have to have surgery to remove the embryo or be given medication that will stop your tubes from bursting.
With this medication, the process that follows will be similar to a miscarriage, where you will bleed and have severe cramps.
Ectopic pregnancies often happen within the first few weeks of pregnancy, and you might not even know you are pregnant – and may not notice any problems until symptoms show up.
Some of these symptoms are light vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain, upset stomach, vomiting and sharp abdominal cramps. Other symptoms include pain on one side of your body, shoulder, neck or rectum as well as dizziness or weakness. Sometimes, these symptoms may appear as severe cramps – and for people who usually have period cramps, one would mistake them as such. However, these are not limited to pain necessarily, because skipping your periods is also a sign.
With losing a pregnancy, it is a lot to go through. Remembering that you did nothing wrong will help you deal with it better.
However, if need be, make sure you give yourself and your partner time to grieve, as pregnancy loss, no matter how early, can be devastating. You can ask your doctor if there are available support groups or get referred to a psychologist after the loss.
Take care of yourself after this loss through rest, eating healthy food and exercising when possible. Losing a pregnancy can be devastating, and many women feel the same sense of grief as if they had lost a family member or partner. It is not uncommon for these feelings to last several months, although they usually improve with time. Give yourself time to grieve.
Remember that many women go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies. When you are ready, talk to your doctor about ways you can ensure your future pregnancy is a healthy one.
* Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.