Ectopic Pregnancy Statistics

How Common Are Tubal Pregnancies, and What Do They Mean for Your Future?

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If you've heard about ectopic pregnancies, you're probably wondering about the statistics. What are your chances of having an ectopic pregnancy?

According to the March of Dimes, about 1 in every 50 pregnancies in the U.S. is an ectopic pregnancy. Your risk, however, may actually be lower. Keep reading to learn why - and to find out what one ectopic pregnancy means for your future pregnancy chances.

What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies are pregnancies that implant outside of the uterus. They're often called tubal pregnancies because they almost always occur in the fallopian tubes.

Studies show that between 6 to 16 percent of pregnant women who go to an emergency department in the first trimester for bleeding, pain or both have an ectopic pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancies can be dangerous to the mother. Bleeding from ectopic pregnancy causes 4 to 10 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths, and it's the leading cause of first-trimester maternal death.

Unfortunately, ectopic pregnancies are not viable and cannot result in a baby. They are treated with a medication called methotrexate or surgery to stop the pregnancy. Without treatment, the pregnancy will be lost regardless, and the mother may die. Between 1980 and 2007, ectopic pregnancies caused 876 maternal deaths in the U.S.

Understanding the Statistics

If you don't have risk factors, your odds of having an ectopic pregnancy may be actually lower than 1 in 50.

Several risk factors are known to boost the risk of ectopic pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes:

  • being older than 35
  • smoking
  • a previous ectopic pregnancy
  • surgery on a fallopian tube or a birth defect in a fallopian tube
  • scars inside the pelvic area 
  • endometriosis
  • STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease
  • problems getting pregnant or fertility treatments 
  • getting pregnant after having your tubes tied (tubal ligation)
  • getting pregnant when using an IUD (intrauterine device)
  • exposure to a manufactured form of the hormone estrogen called DES (diethylstilbestrol) in the womb

After an Ectopic Pregnancy - What Happens Next Time?

Women who have an ectopic pregnancy are often curious about what a pregnancy will look like in the future. It's normal to worry about this.

You should know that you can have a normal pregnancy even after an ectopic pregnancy. A third of women with an ectopic pregnancy have a healthy pregnancy down the line.

However, you do have a 15 percent chance of another ectopic pregnancy after the first one. How your ectopic pregnancy was treated may play a role in this. Studies show that women treated with medication rather than surgery have a lower risk of recurrent ectopic pregnancy (8 percent versus up to 15 percent). This is one reason to get suspicious symptoms such as bleeding checked out as early as possible - ectopic pregnancies caught early are more likely to be treated with methotrexate instead of surgery.

Summing Up Ectopic Pregnancy Statistics

Now, here are the statistics for ectopic pregnancies at a glance:

  • About 1 in every 50 pregnancies in the U.S. is an ectopic pregnancy, which cannot result in a baby.
  • Between 6 to 16 percent of pregnant women who go to an emergency department in the first trimester for bleeding, pain or both have an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Bleeding from ectopic pregnancy causes 4 to 10 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths, and it's the leading cause of first-trimester maternal death.
  • Between 1980 and 2007, ectopic pregnancies caused 876 maternal deaths in the U.S.
  • A third of women with an ectopic pregnancy have a healthy pregnancy down the line.
  • Women have a 15 percent chance of another ectopic pregnancy after the first one. Treatment with medication rather than surgery has a lower risk of recurrent ectopic pregnancy.

Sources:

Ectopic pregnancy: Incidence, risk factors, and pathology. UpToDate. January 21, 2015.

Ectopic pregnancy. March of Dimes. May 2014.

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