The difference between ectopic pregnancy and a normal pregnancy

Pelvic pain in early pregnancy is a common symptom: so how can you tell the difference between an ectopic pregnancy and a normal developing pregnancy?

Following on from The difference between ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, this blog will look at the difference between ectopic pregnancy and a normally developing pregnancy.

The biggest difference

During early pregnancy it is normal to experience some discomfort. However, persistent lower abdominal pain can be cause for a more serious concern: ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy is where the fertilised egg implants outside the womb: usually in the fallopian tube. Generally speaking this is not a normally developing pregnancy and usually does not contain an embryo; which are the key differences between an ectopic pregnancy and a normally developing pregnancy.

What’s the chance of an ectopic pregnancy occurring?

While ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of maternal deaths in early pregnancy, it only occurs in around 1 out of every 80 pregnancies. Having said that, there was tragic news in April of a young mother bleeding to death because the ambulance staff did not know about ectopic pregnancy: they thought she had a miscarriage.

Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy

The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may mimic a miscarriage; however there are two key differences. The first key difference is that an ectopic pregnancy grows in the fallopian tube and may burst causing severe internal bleeding and endanger your life.

The second key difference is that an ectopic pregnancy is not a normally developing pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are often called tubal pregnancies because the egg implants in the fallopian tube and more often than not does not contain an embryo.

In the most recent “Saving Mothers’ Lives”, United Kingdom report 2006 – 2008, there were several cases where women who presented with diarrhoea or gastrointestinal symptoms actually died from an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy. So if you have a change in bowel habit or feel faint, please do a urinary pregnancy test and if positive then have a pelvic scan with OMNI.

Giving you peace of mind

Vaginal bleeding is very common in the first trimester. In approximately 30% of all pregnancies women will experience some vaginal bleeding, while this does not mean you are miscarrying unexplained bleeding can cause great anxiety and uncertainty for expecting parents.

At OMNI Ultrasound we can help put your mind at ease with a transvaginal or internal ultrasound. These scans are the best way to find out what is happening with your pregnancy, and because bleeding often occurs without warning we endeavour to see you the same day.

The advantage of same day scanning is that it can enable immediate and appropriate informed planning for you and your referring GP, Gynaecologist or Obstetrician.

Have we answered all your questions? If you would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care. Located in St Leonards and Penrith in Sydney our compassionate team are always happy to look after you.

For more information, to book a consultation, please contact us today.

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.