What is IVF?
IVF is the implantation of embryos to the uterus of the mother-to-be, fertilized in a laboratory setting in the case of couples experiencing infertility. Infertility can have many different reasons arising due to mother or father-to-be.
What is Ectopic Pregnancy?
Under normal circumstances, embryo forming via fertilization of egg by sperm, once transferred to mother-to-be’s uterus, should stay and develop there. Transfer of an embryo anywhere else than the uterus is accepted as abnormal under medical sciences and is risky. Most common ectopic pregnancy type is the one forming in the fallopian tubes. These tubes are normally the channels carrying the eggs being developed in the ovaries to the uterus once they are mature. Ectopic pregnancy can cause these tubes to be blocked. Furthermore, it can cause tearing in the tubes. In ectopic pregnancy, there is no embryo development. Once it is observed it should be treated either by medication or surgery. Otherwise, life of the mother-to-be is threatened.
Risks of Ectopic Pregnancy in IVF and Natural Pregnancies
Even in natural pregnancies, risk of ectopic pregnancy is prevalent. Especially, with the health history of the mother-to-be, there may be reasons augmenting this condition. As even a detailed research for natural births will give different results for different regions, it is difficult to say for certain. However, research data estimates ectopic pregnancy in IVF to be around 2% and in natural pregnancies to be 1.5%. Ectopic pregnancy is a condition which, if diagnosed early, can be cured even without surgery. In IVF treatments, mothers-to-be are monitored continuously and this risk is watched out for. Most ectopic pregnancies encountered in Turkey after IVF treatment is due to damaged fallopian tubes. Therefore, continuous monitoring can minimize this risk.
What are the factors increasing chances of ectopic pregnancies in IVF?
1. Previous diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases usually cause permanent damage in internal genital organs. These diseases which are likely to affect the uterus, fallopian tubes or the ovaries are indicators of ectopic pregnancies. As previously mentioned, given that the embryo settles in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus due to previously experienced diseases causing blockage in the tubes, it threatens both the mother-to-be and the baby. It is vital that patients who have experienced such health issues inform their doctor before starting IVF treatment.
2. Previous ectopic pregnancy
If the female has experienced ectopic pregnancy before and the causes of ectopic pregnancy are still there, then she can have repeated ectopic pregnancies. Similarly, embryo growing in the fallopian tubes in the previous ectopic pregnancy may have damaged and changed the structure of the tubes. In such a case, chances of experiencing ectopic pregnancy in second pregnancy are very high.
3. Pregnancies at Advanced Age and Various Toxic Substances
Fallopian tubes, through contractions, channel the cells leaving the ovaries to where they need to mature i.e. the uterus. There are certain other extra mechanisms within the body which keep the egg like a vacuum and prevent its fall into the stomach hollow. Both the contractions and vacuum like mechanisms lose their sensitivity and function by age. This in return increases the likelihood of eggs maturing in the stomach hollow or the fallopian tubes. Toxic substances, especially cigarettes, increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies.
4. Previous Surgeries and Other Reasons
Mothers-to-be who have entered into a treatment plan for birth anomalies or for diseases affecting the genitals are in the risk group. In short, we can say that surgeries in the genital area increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies. Abortions are included in this group.
How is ectopic pregnancies diagnosed?
Even though in early stages, ectopic pregnancies show no symptoms, later on due to the pressure exerted on the fallopian tubes, pain is felt in the back. Depending on the size of the embryo, pain can be strong. If not treated, fallopian tubes can get stressed, get damaged or get torn apart. There should be continuous monitoring and a doctor should be seen in the case of pain.