How is an ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

An ectopic pregnancy is typically diagnosed during an appointment in your healthcare provider’s office. Your provider will perform several tests to first confirm a pregnancy, and then look for the ectopic pregnancy. These tests include:

  • A urine test: This test involves either urinating on a test strip (typically shaped like a stick) or urinating into a cup in your provider’s office and then having a test strip dipped into the urine sample.
  • A blood test: You provider may test your blood to see how much of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) you have in your body. This hormone is produced during pregnancy. You may also hear this called your serum beta-hCG level.
  • An ultrasound exam: An imaging test, an ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of your body’s internal structures. Ultrasound is often used during pregnancy. Your provider will use this test to see where the fertilized egg has implanted.

Once your provider has confirmed the pregnancy and determined where the fertilized egg has implanted, a treatment plan will be created. Ectopic pregnancy is an emergency and treatment for this condition is very important.

If your fallopian tube ruptures, you will need to go to the emergency room and be treated immediately. In those cases, there’s no time to wait for an appointment.

How early in a pregnancy is an ectopic pregnancy detected?

Ectopic pregnancy is typically discovered very early in pregnancy. Most cases are found within the first trimester (the first three months). It usually is discovered by the eighth week of pregnancy.

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