What is tubal pregnancy? See symptoms and treatments

Also called ectopic or tubal pregnancy, pregnancy in the tubes occurs when the embryo is implanted outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes.

When this occurs, the development of pregnancy can be hindered. In some cases, the pregnancy needs to be terminated, as it causes heavy bleeding and puts the woman’s life at risk if not treated.

Understand better throughout this article


What is?

An ectopic pregnancy, or pregnancy in the fallopian tubes, occurs most often in a fallopian tube, which is responsible for carrying the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. However, it can appear in other areas of the body, such as the ovary, the abdominal cavity or the lower part of the uterus.

It occurs when there are problems in the last stages of fertilization, that is, when the fertilized egg migrates through the uterine tube to reach the uterus or during its implantation in the wall of the uterus.

It is known that the condition affects between 1% and 2% of women. It is worth noting that the tubas are small and narrow. Therefore, there is no room for the embryo to develop and it can rupture the tissue and cause severe bleeding.

Therefore, this anomaly must be diagnosed as soon as the first symptoms appear to preserve the woman’s health.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy in the tubes?

Generally, women do not experience anything different during pregnancy, other than the typical symptoms of pregnancy: lack of menstruation, breast tenderness and nausea.

Between the sixth and eighth week of gestation, typical symptoms of tubal pregnancy may appear and deserve attention. Are they:

Pelvic pain

It usually appears with a lighter intensity and may be accompanied by vaginal bleeding. As the pregnancy progresses, the pain increases and affects the entire abdomen as well as the shoulders and neck. There may also be severe pain that occurs on one side of the abdomen.

Vaginal bleeding

The pregnant woman may have vaginal bleeding that varies from mild to severe

Dizziness and fainting

When there is disruption of the structure that houses the embryo in the fallopian tube, the pregnant woman feels acute pain, more intense vaginal bleeding that causes fainting and dizziness .

Other symptoms: some women have a feeling of heaviness in the vagina, severe pain on palpation of the uterus; bloated abdomen and Beta HCG exam are negative – the one that identifies the pregnancy.

How to detect pregnancy in the tubes?

It is very important that the diagnosis is made as soon as possible to preserve the woman’s health. If the pregnant woman is asymptomatic, she can discover the pregnancy in the tubes during a routine consultation when performing an ultrasound.

In some cases, transvaginal ultrasound may be requested, which can visualize the tubes and uteri and identify where the pregnancy is occurring.

The doctor may also order a blood test to determine the hormone levels present during pregnancy.

complete blood count (blood test) will be requested to check for anemia or other signs of blood loss.

Main causes of pregnancy in the fallopian tubes

The causes of an ectopic pregnancy are not always clear. Below, see details of what can cause a fallopian tube pregnancy.

Previous ectopic pregnancy

Women who have had this type of pregnancy before are more likely to have another pregnancy in the tubes.

 Inflammation or infection

Sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, can cause inflammation in the tubes and other nearby organs and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Fertility treatments

Some research shows that women who have had IVF or similar treatments are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy. That’s because taking medications to stimulate ovulation (the release of an egg) can increase the risk.

Tubal surgery

When a woman has surgery to correct a closed or damaged uterine tube, the risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy increases.

IUD and tubal ligation

Who uses the IUD (Intrauterine Device) is also more susceptible to having a pregnancy in the tubes. Already women who have had tubal ligation also increase the risk of having an unwanted pregnancy in the tubes.


Women who smoke also have an increased risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy. It is known that the more she smokes, the greater the risk.

Multiple partners

Having multiple sexual partners can also favor the development of an ectopic pregnancy.


Women over 35 are also more likely to have this type of pregnancy.

Malformation in the fallopian tubes

Some women are born with malformations in the fallopian tubes and are more likely to have a pregnancy in the tubes.


The pregnancy in the tubes is rarely able to proceed, since it is safe for the mother. In addition, the embryo will not be able to develop to the end.

Therefore, the embryo is usually removed as quickly as possible to preserve the mother’s health and also her fertility. Treatment options vary according to the location of the ectopic pregnancy and its development.

Below, check out what can be done about a fallopian tube pregnancy.


The first step when identifying a pregnancy in the fallopian tubes is to indicate an injectable medication to stop the embryonic development in the fallopian tubes.

The drug causes symptoms similar to a miscarriage such as cramping and bleeding.

Rarely, further surgery is needed afterwards and most of the time, there is no damage to the tubes. However, generally, a woman cannot get pregnant for several months after taking this medicine.

Currently, most tubal pregnancies are diagnosed. So you can avoid bleeding and complications.


The surgeries occur when the pregnancy in the tubes is more advanced. Thus, the surgeon removes the embryo and repairs the internal damage to the tubes.

Usually, it is a minimally invasive surgery (via laparoscopy), in cuts, and recovery occurs quickly. In some cases, it is necessary to remove the fallopian tube during surgery, if it is severely damaged.

A ruptured ectopic pregnancy is a surgical emergency because it causes maternal bleeding and risk of death. Therefore, immediate diagnosis is essential.

Prevention and complications

There is no way to prevent a tubal pregnancy. What can be done is to avoid the risk factors that contribute to this problem appearing.

Therefore, it is important to use a condom and limit the number of sexual partners. In addition to regular consultations with a gynecologist to check on reproductive health and treat infections and inflammations early.

The faster the ectopic pregnancy is identified, the lower the risk of possible complications to the woman’s health. Even after a pregnancy in the tubes, some women manage to get pregnant normally and have a baby.