An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants outside of the uterus.
This is a potentially life threatening condition, has a tendency to recur and presents with pregnancy symptoms and light vaginal bleeding before nine weeks of pregnancy followed by lower abdominal pain which is sharp, transient and quite severe.
It can be confused with threatened miscarriage. This should always be investigated by a specialist with a scan done through the vagina. Surgical treatment, sometimes by a keyhole technique, is often necessary. Life saving, more major, surgery may be required if there is collapse often with severe abdominal pain.
Ectopic pregnancy suggests and contributes to damage to the fallopian tubes with consequences for fertility. If there has been a previous ectopic pregnancy then a scan through the vagina should be performed very early in the next pregnancy to rule out a recurrence of ectopic pregnancy.