Treatment Options

NHS

Unfortunately, the foetus (the developing embryo) cannot be saved in an ectopic pregnancy. Treatment is usually needed to remove the pregnancy before it grows too large. The main treatment options are:

  • expectant management – your condition is carefully monitored to see whether treatment is necessary
  • medicine – a medicine called methotrexate is used to stop the pregnancy growing
  • surgery – surgery is used to remove the pregnancy, usually along with the affected fallopian tube

These options each have advantages and disadvantages that your doctor will discuss with you. They'll recommend what they think is the most suitable option for you, depending on factors such as your symptoms, the size of the foetus, and the level of pregnancy hormone (human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG) in your blood.

Expectant management

If you have no symptoms or mild symptoms and the pregnancy is very small or can't be found, you may only need to be closely monitored, as there's a good chance the pregnancy will dissolve by itself. This is known as expectant management.

Medicine

If an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed early but active monitoring isn't suitable, treatment with a medicine called methotrexate may be recommended. This works by stopping the pregnancy from growing. It's given as a single injection into your buttocks.

You won't need to stay in hospital after treatment, but regular blood tests will be carried out to check if the treatment is working. A second dose is sometimes needed and surgery may be necessary if it doesn't work.

Surgery

In most cases, keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) will be carried out to remove the pregnancy before it becomes too large. Removing the affected fallopian tube is the most effective treatment and isn't thought to reduce your chances of becoming pregnant again.

Your doctor will discuss this with you beforehand, and you'll be asked whether you consent to having the tube removed. Most women can leave hospital a few days after surgery, although it can take 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover.

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