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Can I conceive after an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies, or pregnancies that occur outside of the uterus, can be devastating, and after treatment women often need time to heal, both physically and emotionally, before trying to conceive again.

The details behind conceiving after an ectopic pregnancy

There are several variables that factor in to a parent’s chance for conceiving after an ectopic pregnancy.

Physical recovery

Different healthcare providers may have different recommendations depending on each woman’s individual health history, but many healthcare providers suggest waiting at least three months before trying again after an ectopic pregnancy. This allows the body to heal from the following potential effects of an ectopic pregnancy:

  • Disrupted menstrual cycle: Menstrual periods will have stopped during pregnancy, and can take a few weeks or months to restart after the pregnancy ends. Once the hormones that control the menstrual cycle are back to their pre-pregnancy levels, the menstrual cycle will resume, and conception is once again possible.
  • Scar tissue in the fallopian tube: Though not always, an ectopic pregnancy often involves the egg implanting in a fallopian tube, rather than travelling down the tube and implanting in the uterine wall. Because of this, after an ectopic pregnancy there can be damage to the fallopian tube, whether it’s from the pregnancy’s growth, the procedure to remove it, or from something that contributed to the ectopic pregnancy such as an untreated STD. Scarring in the fallopian tube can interfere with future attempts at pregnancy, so it’s important for these scars to heal before a woman tries again.

Mental recovery

Women vary greatly in their response to pregnancy loss. Some women don’t need any time at all before attempting pregnancy again, while others need time to recover mentally after a loss. It’s not uncommon for the expectations of pregnancy combined with the pain of loss to make women hesitant about trying again. In these cases, it’s wise to take some time off before trying again.

Part of mental recovery involves knowing that after experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, the odds of having another ectopic pregnancy are slightly higher – about one in 10. Many women go on to have a healthy pregnancy, but it’s important to know that your risk of future ectopic pregnancies may be higher than the average woman’s risk.

Even after your healthcare provider gives you the go-ahead on the physical side, it’s very normal to want to wait a bit longer before trying again.

Before you start

The success of a future pregnancy depends on what caused the ectopic pregnancy, as well as your medical history. Before you start trying again, you will want to see your provider for a checkup, where he or she can confirm that your body is ready to sustain another pregnancy.

You might be advised to try conceiving naturally, or your provider might recommend that you try in vitro fertilization (IVF) or another form of assisted reproductive technology, particularly if you have tubal damage or have experienced multiple ectopic pregnancies. If your fallopian tubes aren’t damaged and your ectopic pregnancy was treated early, the odds of a successful and healthy pregnancy are roughly 66%.

The importance of staying healthy

The causes of ectopic pregnancy still aren’t completely clear, and it may be that multiple causes combine to contribute to the development of an ectopic pregnancy. In most cases, an ectopic pregnancy happens due to factors that are out of a woman’s control. But as is the case for all women who are trying to get pregnant, when you’re ready to start trying again, make sure that you take care of yourself and your health. This includes eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, decreasing your stress as much as possible, and getting regular exercise. These behaviors can all improve fertility and help reduce some of the risk factors that contribute to pregnancy complications.

  • Richard Sherbahn. Pregnancy After Tubal Ectopic Pregnancy: Getting pregnant after an ectopic.” AdvancedFertility. Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, 2016. Web.
  • Judy Bliss. “Healthy Outlook: Don’t give up after tubal pregnancy.” CCHealth Contra Costa Country Health Services, Jun 6 2012. Web.
  • Marissa Selner and Rachel Nall. “Who is at risk for an ectopic pregnancy?” Healthline. Healthline Media, Oct 13 2015. Web.

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