Risk factors for an ectopic pregnancy are many, but women often experience an ectopic pregnancy without any obvious risk factors.
In this post, risk factors are divided into “high,” “moderate,” and “low” risks, based on how they are linked to ectopic pregnancies.
Previous ectopic pregnancy – If you have ever had even one ectopic pregnancy, you are about 17 times more likely to experience another ectopic pregnancy.
Abnormal fallopian tubes – A woman with anatomical abnormalities of the fallopian tubes is more likely to have implantation in the tubes than women with zero abnormalities of the tube.
The use of Maternal DES – The drug DES (or diethylstilbestrol) has been revealed to lead to congenital abnormalities of the uterus in girl children from mothers who took the drug when they were pregnant.
The formation of the fallopian tubes in these girls may also be such that it can easily lead to ectopic pregnancy. In the early 1970s, doctors discovered the problem and stopped prescribing DES to pregnant women. No wonder most of today’s pregnant women are not exposed to the drug.
Endometriosis – Any woman who has endometriosis has a high risk of ectopic pregnancy. Endometriosis can lead to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions and may interfere with the journey of the fertilized egg to the uterus.
History of Tubal Surgery – If you are a woman that had had fallopian tube-related surgical procedures, the tubal ligation may provoke the likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy.
Use of an IUD device – Women who use contraceptive intrauterine devices (IUDs) are also at risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. However, researchers believe that IUDs don’t technically increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Instead, if a conception occurs, the pregnancy gets an increased risk of being ectopic.
Moderate Risk Factors
- History of STIs or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)– Some STIs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease that may lead to scarring in the fallopian tubes, raising the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
- History of infertility – Certain medical factors that cause infertility also make ectopic pregnancy possible. Besides, some of the common drugs for treating infertility may increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
- Multiple sexual partners – Having several sexual partners can increase the risk due to an increased chance of contracting sexually transmitted infection.
- Exposure to cigarette smoke – The more a woman exposes herself to cigarette smoke, the higher her risk of getting ectopic pregnancy. Studies have shown that female smokers have a four to 20 times higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy than those who smoke zero cigarette.
- Douching – According to some doctors, douching may potentially cause abnormal bacteria presence in the vagina. And this bacteria can move up the reproductive tract and cause inflammation of the tubes.
- Past abdominal surgery – Studies have shown that women who had an appendectomy or laparotomy seem to have a slightly high risk of miscarriage.
- Age – The more a woman ages, the riskier she becomes when it comes to getting an ectopic pregnancy. Women over 40 have the highest risk.
- Elective abortions – Any woman that has had up to two or more elective abortions may have a slightly higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy, though conclusive research is yet to confirm it.
There’s no way you can prevent an ectopic pregnancy, but you can find some safe ways to decrease your risk. Our subsequent article will explore these safe ways.