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Ectopic Pregnancy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches and begins to grow outside of the uterus. The most common place for this to happen is in the fallopian tube. This is sometimes called a tubal pregnancy. The egg can also implant on the outside of the uterus, on the ovary or cervix, or in the abdomen. The egg may begin to grow, but the pregnancy cannot continue normally. Ectopic pregnancy can cause heavy bleeding and may be life-threatening.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have sharp pain in your lower abdomen that is severe and starts suddenly.
  • You feel lightheaded or like you are going to faint.
  • You have increasing abdominal or pelvic pain or heavy vaginal bleeding.
  • You have shoulder pain.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

If you received methotrexate:

  • Do not have sex, and limit physical activity. Heavy physical activity or sexual intercourse may cause the ectopic pregnancy to rupture. This can be life-threatening. Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay to have sex and return to your normal activities.
  • Do not get pregnant until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Methotrexate will be harmful to an unborn baby. You will need to wait until at least 1 monthly cycle after you finish the methotrexate course to get pregnant. Your provider may want you to wait until after you have had 3 monthly cycles. This will help make sure all the methotrexate is out of your body.
  • Avoid folic acid and NSAID medicines. Folic acid, and NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, prevent methotrexate from working correctly. Do not take folic acid supplements or have foods that are high in folic acid. Examples include orange juice, breakfast cereal, and leafy green vegetables. Your healthcare provider can give you more information on foods to avoid.
  • You may have some spotting and abdominal pain. This may start a few days after you begin taking methotrexate. These are normal and should only last a short time. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
  • Limit sunlight exposure. Sunlight can cause a condition caused methotrexate dermatitis (skin irritation).

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

For support and more information:

  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
    P.O. Box 70620
    Washington , DC 20024-9998
    Phone: 1- 202 - 638-5577
    Phone: 1- 800 - 673-8444
    Web Address:

Follow up with your gynecologist as directed:

You may need to return for a follow-up exam, treatment, or blood tests. If you received methotrexate to stop your pregnancy, it is important to come in for follow-up tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.