Early warning signs
Usually, the first symptom of an ectopic pregnancy is light bleeding or spotting. This bleeding can sometimes be confused with intermenstrual bleeding or implantation bleeding. However, if blood is coming from the fallopian tubes, it is often also accompanied by shoulder pain and the urge to have a bowel movement.
If you have these symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider. Symptoms usually appear 2 to 4 weeks after a missed period, or after 6 to 10 weeks of pregnancy. However, symptoms can start as early as four weeks after conception.
Ectopic pregnancies and pregnancy tests. Pregnancy tests usually detect ectopic pregnancies. This is because the fertilized egg starts releasing a specific pregnancy hormone, called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), regardless of where it implants. It is this hormone that pregnancy tests detect.
Some ectopic pregnancies occur with few to no symptoms, or symptoms that appear ‘normal.’
In many cases, ectopic pregnancy symptoms can overlap with intrauterine pregnancy (pregnancy that happens in the uterus) symptoms. They include:
- Breast soreness.
- Missed period (if periods are regular).
However, unlike a normal pregnancy, ectopic pregnancies also cause:
- Belly (abdominal) and pelvis pain, which is often sharp or stabbing and comes in waves.
- Dizziness, weakness, and fainting.
- Shoulder pain, often at the tip of the shoulder or in the shoulder blade.
- Neck pain.
- Pain on one side of the body.
- Red or brown vaginal bleeding or spotting. This may be accompanied by rectal, shoulder, or abdominal pain.
- Urge to have a bowel movement or feeling rectal pressure.
These symptoms do not always mean you have an ectopic pregnancy, but they can be the signs of another serious medical condition.
No matter what, if you experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.