do pregnancy tests detect ectopic pregnancies

Do Pregnancy Tests Detect Ectopic Pregnancies?

Every woman dreads an ectopic pregnancy, and the fear is justified. An ectopic pregnancy is said to happen when a pregnancy fails to grow inside the uterus, and instead, develops in the fallopian tube. It may also occur on the ovary or even your belly. While rare – happens in two out of every 100 pregnancies – ectopic pregnancies are dangerous and must be treated with urgency. If not handled in good time, an ectopic pregnancy may break the fallopian tube due to excessive stretching as the baby grows. A ruptured ectopic pregnancy has severe consequences namely internal bleeding, infection, and at times, death may occur.    

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Nobody knows with certainty the cause of ectopic pregnancies. However, you are at a higher risk if; 

  • You’ve undergone pelvic or abdominal surgery. 
  • You’ve had a sexually transmitted disease, endometriosis, or PID (Pelvic inflammatory disease). 
  • You have been smoking cigarettes. 
  • You are 35 years and above. 
  • You’ve had an ectopic pregnancy before   

One commonly asked question is; do pregnancy tests detect ectopic pregnancies?     

A pregnancy test detects hCG levels within seven to ten days of a missed period. Note that a negative pregnancy neither rules out the possibility of a pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy. It could mean that it is too soon for the test to detect hCG in the urine or blood. To rule out or diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, your doctor may recommend one or more quantitative hCG tests. These types of tests usually measure the quantity of hCG in the blood. If a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, the hCG in her blood is generally lower than the standard amount present in a normally growing pregnancy, and it also increases at a much slower rate than the usual one.     

do pregnancy tests detect ectopic pregnancies

Medical practitioners also use ultrasound to diagnose ectopic pregnancy and locate the implanted embryo. A transvaginal scan might be recommended to make the diagnosis more effective. If your doctor does not find the embryo, he/she will continue monitoring the pregnancy until he/she can make a diagnosis. On rare occasions, health practitioners insert a laparoscope (a tiny viewing instrument) into the abdomen by making a small incision underneath the navel.

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