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Ectopic pregnancy and mental health

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Women Veterans

Ectopic pregnancy and mental health

During an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants itself somewhere outside the uterus, such as in a fallopian tube. A woman with an ectopic pregnancy may experience typical pregnancy symptoms at first, such as a missed period, breast tenderness and nausea, along with a having positive pregnancy test. When it becomes clear that the pregnancy is ectopic, it is treated as a medical emergency. Because it’s so unexpected and urgent, the process of diagnosis and treatment can be stressful and sometimes traumatic.

Individuals differ widely in their long-term reactions to ectopic pregnancy loss. Some women experience prolonged grief, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic symptoms and suicidality. Others, especially if they have good support and counseling, can experience a deepened sense of meaning and spirituality.  This can include, for example, living more in the moment and finding meaning in helping others.

If you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy and are feeling distressed, consider speaking with your primary care provider or mental health clinician about counseling and other treatment options.

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