Women whose first pregnancy is ectopic are likely to have fewer children in the following 20-30 years than women whose first pregnancy ends in a delivery, miscarriage or abortion, according to results from a study of nearly 3,000 women in Denmark. In addition, these women have a five-fold increased risk of a subsequent ectopic pregnancy.
The first study to look at long-term reproductive outcomes in women whose first pregnancy was ectopic is published online today (Thursday) in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction. Ectopic pregnancies are pregnancies where a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the lining of the womb; often it’s in one of the Fallopian tubes.
Approximately one per cent of pregnancies are ectopic, and they are never viable; often the eggs die, sometimes a drug called methotrexate is given so that the pregnancy tissue is absorbed into the woman’s body, and sometimes surgery is needed.
Although it is already known that a previous ectopic pregnancy can increase the risk of a subsequent one, most studies have been small and with short follow-up.
“We found no controlled study assessing long-term reproductive prognosis in women whose first pregnancy is ectopic,” write the authors of the current study.
The researchers collected data from four Danish registries covering the period 1977-2009. They found 2,917 women whose first pregnancy was ectopic between 1977-1982 and who, except for those who died or emigrated, were followed to the end of 2009 or for an average of 23 years.