Ectopic pregnancy is an implantation of an embryo anywhere outside the uterus.  Often times this occurs in the fallopian tubes but can also occur in the ovaries, cervix, or abdomen.

Predisposing Factors

Not many people have any predisposing factors, meaning that it can happen to anyone.  Those with the following tend to have an increased risk:

  • History of pelvic inflammatory disease (due to chlamydia infection)
  • Infertility
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Use of assisted reproductive technology
  • Tubal litigation
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)


Differential Diagnosis

Often times, Ectopic pregnancy signs can be similar to:

  • Appendicitis
  • Miscarriage
  • Ovarian torsion
  • Genitourinary or gastrointestinal problems
  • Salpingitis
  • Ruptured cyst
  • Urinary tract infection


Signs & Symptoms

  • Acute: shock, hypotension, tachycardia (fast heart rate), peritoneal inflammation, distended abdomen, very tender to touch, rebound tenderness (not as much pain with pressure, more pain as soon as pressure is released), severe pain
  • Subacute: recurrent vaginal bleeding with abdominal pain


Diagnosis & Treatment

If an ectopic pregnancy is suspected it is very important that you go to your doctor or to the hospital.  Often times, ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed with an ultrasound.  Once diagnosed, they will either prescribe methotrexate to dissolve the pregnancy, or a laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery) to physically remove the pregnancy.


Can Chinese Medicine Help?

Yes, it can!  But it should not be substituted for western medical care, instead in can be used in conjunction with western medicine.  There are some herbal medicine treatments that are used to help move stasis and remove masses.

Differentiations include:

  • Blood Stasis: severe, stabbing abdominal pain, purple tongue, wiry pulse
  • Collapse of Yang: abdominal pain, bright white complexion, hypertension, sweating, cold hands and feet, nausea, vomiting, deep-fine-scattered pulse
  • Blood Stasis & Qi Deficiency: abdominal pain better with pressure, vaginal bleeding, lassitude, normal blood pressure, fine pulse

For herbal formulas that can help with ectopic pregnancy, please contact your TCM Practitioner.  It is important to have a diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy and not something else.


Caroline Prodoehl, R.Ac, R.TCMP



Maciocia, Giovanni.  (1998).  Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine.  Churchill Livingstone. New York, NY.

Wikipedia: Ectopic Pregnancy