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Have you had an ectopic or tubal pregnancy? If you have, you are not alone. One of the most devastating experiences on my journey to motherhood was having an ectopic pregnancy. Before I conceived naturally, my husband and I underwent fertility treatments including IVF. Yes, we got pregnant, but the joy and elation tragically ended when the ultrasound showed I had tubal pregnancy. It's not always stressed by fertility clinics, but IVF pregnancies have a higher risk of implanting in the fallopian tube. The reason isn't always clear, but it could have something to do with the location in the uterus where the embryos are transferred. Other risk factors include pelvic inflammatory disease, adhesions, and previous tubal ligation.

How Is Ectopic Pregnancy Treated?

Ectopic pregnancies can implant in the abdomen, but most often occur in the fallopian tube. In some cases, the tube can be salvaged, but if the damage is severe, it must be surgically removed along with the pregnancy growing inside of it. Most of the time, this can be done laparoscopically to minimize recovery time. If an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed early enough, it is possible to treat it medically. Medical management typically includes a drug called "methotrexate" (sold under the names Trexall and Rheumatrex). This drug deprives cells of essential nutrients which stop the pregnancy from growing so it can expel on its own. After an ectopic pregnancy, you are usually told to wait three full menstrual cycles before having unprotected intercourse. When you're trying to conceive, that sounds like an eternity. Even if your ectopic pregnancy is treated medically with methotrexate, you are warned not to conceive for a full three months because it could cause birth defects if you conceive while it is in your system. If you've experienced infertility or you feel your biological clock ticking, you may be saying to yourself, "I don't have time for this!”

You Can Still Have A Successful Pregnancy After An Ectopic

If you are trying to get pregnant naturally, the removal of one of your fallopian tubes is a setback, but as long as you have one tube, you can still get pregnant. According a recent study published in Human Reproduction, your chances of getting pregnant after an ectopic may be as high as 70%. [1] Interestingly, my mother's first pregnancy was ectopic and she went on to have three children. Even though I was over the age of 40, I conceived naturally multiple times with only one fallopian tube. So, optimally it would great to have both tubes, but you can still do fine with just one.

Dealing With Grief and Depression After Pregnancy Loss

Most women who have a miscarriage experience grief and depression and having an ectopic only adds to the emotional turmoil. Get support by joining a support group or an on-line support forum. There are many women out there who've gone through this experience. It is very comforting to talk to others who know what you're going through and it's encouraging to see others in your situation succeed. When I ran an support group for my local chapter of Resolve (the national infertility organization), there were two of us who had prior ectopic pregnancies. Both of us went on to have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby. This should be encouraging no matter what your age!

So what should you do if you've had an ectopic pregnancy? First, know you can try again with the knowledge that the odds are in your favor. Second, use this recovery time to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Third, look for the support of other women and/or mental health professionals who deal with infertility and pregnancy loss. The Resolve website has a number of resources and organizes support groups around the country.

[1].Hervé Fernandez, Perrine Capmas, Jean Philippe Lucot, Benoit Resch, Pierre Panel, and Jean Bouyer for the GROG Fertility after ectopic pregnancy: the DEMETER randomized trial Hum. Reprod. 2013 : det037v1-det037.

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