Explaining Ectopic Pregnancy: Emotional impact
Supporting you and your family’s emotions
This section aims to help you make sense of some of the thoughts, feelings, and reactions, including what you can do to process them and when to seek professional help. It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel and that everyone is different.
Whether your pregnancy was planned or unplanned, whether you have recently started to try to conceive or been trying for some time, whether you are single or in a relationship, there can be a mix of thoughts and feelings that surface. Whatever your circumstances, you are not alone and can use our support services for as long as you wish.
Detailed general information can be found here on our website. Please remember that online medical information is no substitute for expert medical care from your own healthcare team.
Below is a list of common questions that we are asked about emotions. Please click on any of the questions below and they will expand into a detailed answer. If there are any questions that you do not see the answers to here, you may find them on our discussion forums or you could look at our support services.
What emotions can I expect to feel in the early days of my diagnosis and treatment?
Being monitored or treated for an ectopic pregnancy is a worrying experience. For most people, the time between a positive pregnancy test and having a confirmed ectopic pregnancy is short and confusing. There can be many worries and decisions to make that it can be difficult to process what is happening and for emotions to surface.
Physically, until hCG levels return to non-pregnant (which can take several weeks even after surgery), you may still ‘feel’ pregnant. This can be a distressing reminder of the trauma and loss you have sadly experienced. The first few days and weeks may be preoccupied with your physical recovery and it is important not to rush this. Acknowledging that it may not be possible to return to daily activities straight away and giving yourself time to recover can help to ease the expectations people put on themselves. Some people wish to block out their feelings and “get on with life” – however, there needs to be a balance between carrying on with necessary tasks while also allowing yourself time and space to process what has happened. Grief is a normal reaction to a difficult life event and allowing time to face your feelings can help you recover.
You may experience fear, anger, sadness, and guilt. You may feel vulnerable, the world might seem threatening and the future uncertain. These are understandable emotional reactions. Thoughts about your ectopic pregnancy can sometimes trigger physical symptoms such as palpitations, patchy sleep, poor concentration, agitation, and dizziness. These symptoms often go away with time. However, if they continue for more than 4-6 weeks, you should discuss them with your doctor/GP.
It is important to remember that the ectopic pregnancy was not your fault and that there was nothing you could have done to prevent it from happening.
Why did this happen to me?
For most people, after experiencing a difficult event, it is a natural response to try to make sense of what has just happened and why they have had an ectopic pregnancy. Trying to understand why you have had an ectopic pregnancy can be frustrating as there often are limited or even no answers to questions. You may be angry with your doctors for not being able to provide you with answers or for being given different responses from various professionals.
Some feel guilty and even blame themselves for having “caused” or contributed to the ectopic pregnancy. It is important to acknowledge that there was nothing you could have done to stop the ectopic pregnancy from happening and that it is not your fault. You had no choice other than to be treated for your ectopic pregnancy as you may have internally bled to death if you had not had treatment.
For more than half of the UK’s ectopic pregnancies, there is no known risk or factors to cause the ectopic pregnancy.