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Risks and complications of IVF treatment

Describes the believed causes of ectopic pregnancy, and why they are more likely following IVF treatment.

What are the causes of ectopic pregnancy?

Vaginal ultrasound scan showing tubal pregnancy.

This is not yet fully understood but the most common cause is a narrowed or distorted Fallopian tube. This could have been the consequence of past pelvic infections or operations such as tubal surgery, previous ectopic pregnancy, adhesions or endometriosis. Occasionally there is a congenital abnormality of the tube. Other risk factors include increased maternal age and smoking.

It has been proposed that a damaged tube may be unable to expel the embryo, which may have been migrated into the tube from the uterine cavity and is trapped in the tube.

The technique of embryo transfer may contribute to the chance of ectopic pregnancy by forcing the embryo into the tube as a result of placing the embryo high in the cavity, injecting too much volume of the culture medium or injecting the embryos at high pressure. In most cases the cause of tubal pregnancy is not known.

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