Having an ectopic pregnancy can feel devastating for anyone, particularly in the case of women who have already struggled to get pregnant. The short and longer-term physical effects can be difficult to cope with, as well as the barrage of hormones and the emotional upset. It’s important to heal physically and mentally, before trying to conceive again.

Counselling and support can help. Many women who have experienced an ectopic pregnancy will eventually want to try again for a baby, but may be worried about having another ectopic pregnancy. Being well-informed about all of the options available is key and choosing a clinic that can support your needs.

The good news is, that for a woman who has had one or more ectopic pregnancies, IVF not only increases the chances of a successful pregnancy, it can also reduce the risk of a further ectopic pregnancy in the fallopian tubes.

What is an ectopic pregnancy and how does it affect fertility?

An ectopic pregnancy, is where the foetus develops outside of the uterus, often in one of the fallopian tubes, which is why it can also be known as a tubal pregnancy. It’s not a viable pregnancy, as the foetus cannot survive outside of the uterus, or be moved from its location into the uterus. Early treatment of ectopic pregnancies, using injectable medication, is the best way of protecting the woman and preserving her future fertility. If untreated, ectopic pregnancies can rupture, breaking through the wall of the fallopian tube and leading to dangerous internal bleeding.

The most common symptoms experienced with an ectopic pregnancy, are abnormal vaginal bleeding and one-sided pelvic pain.

After an ectopic pregnancy, a woman may have scarred, damaged, or blocked tubes, making conceiving naturally much more difficult.

It may be that both of her fallopian tubes need to be surgically removed, in which case, it is considered unlikely that she will conceive naturally and IVF may be needed.

Why choose IVF after an ectopic pregnancy?

If a woman has one ectopic pregnancy, there is an increased risk of her having another, which is why IVF can be recommended.  The steps involved in the IVF process, mean that the healthy embryos created in the lab can be transferred directly to the uterus, thus removing the need for fallopian tubes and helping to prevent a further ectopic pregnancy.

What are the success rates for IVF after an ectopic pregnancy?

IVF success rates for young women with tubal problems are considered to be good, as ectopic pregnancy only occurs after IVF in about 3% of people.

IVF greatly increases a woman’s chances of having a successful pregnancy, if she has previously had one or more ectopic pregnancies.

Why is additional monitoring needed in women who have previously had an ectopic pregnancy?

All pregnancies are monitored to ensure the well-being of the mother and baby during the pregnancy. However, if a woman has previously had an ectopic pregnancy, extra monitoring is needed, to ensure that the embryo has safely implanted in the uterus. Once safe implantation has occurred, the pregnancy will be treated the same as any other.

Choosing a clinic to meet your needs

Finding the right clinic to offer the support you need before, during and after IVF treatment is very important. IVF clinics provide a varying range of services and standards of care, depending on their location and the expertise of their staff. It’s advisable to do your research before signing up for treatment with a clinic and going through the IVF procedure.

At the IVFN, we recognise that the range of choices, clinics and options available for assisted conception, can sometimes feel overwhelming. Through our website, blog posts and dedicated channel, our aim is to provide the information and advice you’ll need, in a simple and non-biased way, to support you on your own fertility journey.  Read Katy’s real life story about, Infertility, Loss and Success