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OP64 Women’s experiences of ectopic pregnancy: a qualitative study
  1. N Spillane1,
  2. S Meaney2,
  3. K O’Donoghue1
  1. 1Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  2. 2National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland


Background Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life threating condition. Due to the specific nature of Ectopic pregnancy the grief experienced may well be overlooked compared to other pregnancy losses. Fertility concerns for the future and recovery from surgical or medical treatment may instead become the focus of care. The aim of this study was to gain insight into women’s experience of Ectopic pregnancy, focusing on the area of emotional recovery.

Methods Seven women who had experienced an Ectopic pregnancy in a large tertiary-level Irish maternity hospital partook in in-depth qualitative interviews. This sample was recruited purposively ensuring Ectopic pregnancies which were managed expectantly, medically and surgically were included. In this study an interpretative phenomenological analysis was utilised as it has an ideographic approach which allows us to gain insight into the women’s experiences of Ectopic pregnancy.

Results In this sample the hope and expectations of a healthy pregnancy were wiped out on the diagnosis of Ectopic pregnancy. Women expressed feelings of shock, disbelief and confusion as they tried to come to terms with this diagnosis. Management of Ectopic pregnancy includes scans and blood tests to confirm the location of the pregnancy. These women highlighted the importance of scans to reassure themselves that the pregnancy was not viable. This coping mechanism was adopted by all women in order to protect themselves emotionally. A key theme indicated by these women was the importance of clear and detailed information in relation to the management of their pregnancy and what to expect in relation to the treatment necessary. At interview women expressed dissatisfaction with how the end of their outpatient care was communicated via phone call. This was further compounded by the fact that no women were offered any form of bereavement counselling. As no forum was made available to discuss future pregnancies, apprehension about their fertility escalated and women were reluctant to conceive again.

Conclusion The findings of this study show that women had difficulty coming to terms with their diagnosis and its implication for treatment. This study found that the lack of follow up had a negative impact on their ability to recover from the Ectopic pregnancy and illustrated women’s reservations to embark on future pregnancies. The results of this study have implications for the care of women who experience Ectopic pregnancy particularly in relation to how they are managed from diagnosis to completion of treatment.

  • Ectopic Pregnancy
  • Qualitative
  • Maternity

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