A hysterectomy may be partial or total and depending on how extensive the procedure is, the ovaries may remain and are still capable of producing eggs. Generally, after a partial hysterectomy any eggs that become fertilized are harmlessly absorbed by the body and never develop. However, sometimes the egg develops into a rare pregnancy after a hysterectomy. In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg begins to grow somewhere other than the uterus. This can occur in any premenopausal woman, regardless of whether she has had a partial hysterectomy.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, ectopic pregnancies account for just under two percent of all known pregnancies. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg develops external to the uterus, occurring in the ovary, the cervix, or the abdomen. However, these pregnancies are unable to be carried to term. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that ectopic pregnancies cannot yield a birth.
Ectopic pregnancies are not exclusive to women who have had hysterectomies. Several risk factors contribute to the development of an ectopic pregnancy in women who have not had hysterectomies. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is one of the most common risk factors. It plays a factor in as many as half of all ectopic pregnancies, per the National Institutes of Health. Women who have endured previous surgeries and have buildups of scar tissue also face a heightened risk.
The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy after hysterectomy are progressive, getting worse as time goes on. According to the Mayo Clinic, early symptoms may include some bleeding and abdominal cramping. As the pregnancy develops, bleeding can become much heavier and the pain is far more pronounced. Other symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include dizziness, fainting, nausea, and tenderness of the breasts.
An ectopic pregnancy can be very dangerous. When an ectopic pregnancy is not treated, it can lead to severe blood loss and shock, and death becomes a real possibility. Treatment is necessary to protect the woman’s life and the earlier it is administered, the better. If heavy bleeding has started, emergency treatment must be sought and administered immediately.
Pregnancy after a hysterectomy requires certain circumstances in order to occur, but when it does it cannot be seen through to the end. Without a uterus in which to develop, a fertilized egg is usually simply absorbed by the body. However, in some cases an ectopic pregnancy occurs. The fertilized egg finds a substitute for the uterus and begins to develop. In ectopic pregnancies, the egg cannot survive and if left untreated, can lead to disastrous results. Any questions about ectopic pregnancies, pregnancy after hysterectomy, or related issues should be directed to an individual’s personal medical professional.
Ectopic pregnancy. Mayo Clinic.
Ectopic pregnancy. National Institutes of Health.
Ectopic pregnancy. University of Maryland Medical Center.
Lozeau, Anne-Marie, M.D., and Potter, Beth, M.D. Diagnosis and Management of Ectopic Pregnancy. American Academy of Family Physicians.