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What is an ectopic pregnancy and what are the symptoms?

Abortion  •  27 March 2023  • 3 min read

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An ectopic pregnancy is when a pregnancy develops outside of the womb (or uterus). Ectopic pregnancy is estimated to occur in 11 out of every 1,000 pregnancies. 

Though you may be at low risk of ectopic pregnancy, it’s important to know about it and to be aware of the symptoms. 

In this blog, you will find information about:

  • What an ectopic pregnancy is
  • The symptoms of a tubal ectopic pregnancy 
  • What to do if you think you have an ectopic pregnancy 
  • Where to find more information 

What is an ectopic pregnancy? 

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that develops in the wrong place. A normal pregnancy implants inside the uterus (also known as the womb) but an ectopic implants somewhere else, most commonly within the fallopian tubes. 

Ectopic pregnancies can also sometimes occur within a caesarean section scar, in the cervix or at the point where the fallopian tube connects to the uterus. 

Ectopic pregnancy is estimated to occur in 11 out of every 1,000 pregnancies. 

What are the symptoms of a tubal ectopic pregnancy?

If you are visiting one of our clinics for an ultrasound scan and the pregnancy was not visible, you may be asked to return in a week or so for another scan. 

Please watch out for these signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy:

  • Brown watery discharge
  • (can be vaginal bleeding)
  • One-sided pain in the lower part of
    your abdomen (“tummy”) or pelvis
  • Pain in your shoulder

Other symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Discomfort when passing urine or pooing
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting

What to do if you think you have an ectopic pregnancy

These symptoms may not be a sign of anything serious but if you experience any of these, please call our 24-hour aftercare line on 0345 122 1441.

If you have these symptoms, feel very unwell and have severe pain, please call 999 or be taken to the nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.

During the medical abortion it is normal to get pain and bleeding. Please read our Medical Abortion Treatment and Aftercare booklet about the pain and bleeding that can be expected.

If you have concerns that you may have an ectopic pregnancy during your medical abortion, please call our 24-hour aftercare line on 0345 122 1441.

You can read more in our Ectopic pregnancy symptoms and treatment leaflet. 

Where can I get more information?

The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust
NHS Choices
Miscarriage Association


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