Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy can be a very distressing and frightening experience. This section of our website aims tell you something about

You can also find more detailed information in our leaflet on ectopic pregnancy.

We hope this will help at what can be a very difficult time.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is one that develops outside of the womb (the word “ectopic” means “out of place”). Around 1 in 80 pregnancies is ectopic and for some women, it can be life-threatening.

Most ectopic pregnancies are in one of the Fallopian tubes – the place where sperm and egg meet and where the egg is fertilised. That’s why they are sometimes called tubal pregnancies or tubal ectopics. In rare cases, the pregnancy develops somewhere else – for example at the very top of the uterus, or outside it – and these are called non-tubal ectopics.

Can an ectopic pregnancy survive?

Not in a tubal pregnancy, as the Fallopian tube can’t stretch enough to allow the embryo to grow. A non-tubal ectopic may have more room for the embryo to grow but it is extremely unlikely to survive without causing serious harm to the mother. There is also no way to transfer an ectopic pregnancy safely to the womb.

You can read about causes, symptoms and diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy here.