It depends. Some ectopic pregnancies are caused by certain conditions like endometriosis or as a result of previous pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) commonly caused by Chlamydia infection. In these conditions the remaining fallopian tube may be scarred and increase the likelihood of another ectopic pregnancy. In general, the risk of recurrence is up to 8-10% after one ectopic pregnancy. The recurrence risk is of course dependent on whether or not you have any underlying conditions. Many women (and doctors) think that the ovaries are taking turns in releasing an egg (left than right etc.) but this is not true. The other commonly held belief is that, for example, the right fallopian tube only can pick up the egg released from the right ovary, which is not true either. We know that in reality the ovaries are located rather close to each other (not like in the anatomy pictures), and ovulation occurs more “randomly” from each ovary (sometimes at the same time!) and that the fallopian tubes can pick up the egg from the ovary on the other side. This is because of a complex process attracting the fallopian tube to move towards the ovary where the ovulation (release of the egg) has occurred.
Therefore a previous ectopic pregnancy doesn’t half your chances of a next pregnancy. Research has shown that around 65% of women with a previous ectopic pregnancy have an intrauterine pregnancy within 18 months. This figure may go up to as high as 80% in two years, so that is promising. If you do fall pregnant it is important to have an early pregnancy scan determining the location of the pregnancy, making sure it is inside the uterus.
If you have trouble falling pregnant than depending of your age and underlying conditions we would recommend you to see one of our Alana specialists as the other fallopian tube may be scarred and preventing you from conceiving naturally. There is an ultrasound test called a HyCoSy (“Hysterosalpingo Contrast Sonography”) which can determine whether your other fallopian tube is functioning normally. During this ultrasound investigation a speculum is inserted to allow a thin plastic tube to be placed inside the uterus. Through this tube a mixture of air and normal saline is injected and this shows up on the ultrasound scan. You can see if the fallopian tube is open (“patent”) as there is spill seen around the end of the fallopian tube and ovary. This test may reassure you if normal. If the fallopian tube is blocked it is worthwhile seeing one of our fertility specialists at Alana who will discuss alternative ways for a pregnancy to occur (like IVF).