Ectopic pregnancy differs from other losses because many parents are unaware they even have conceived. In many cases, a pregnant woman and her doctor may not have had any reason to suspect an ectopic or tubal pregnancy. A growing baby, pushing on a tiny fallopian tube can cause great pain, even before the pregnancy is confirmed.
Pain is usually the first sign of an ectopic pregnancy. The pain may be in the pelvis, abdomen or even the shoulder or neck (because the blood from a ruptured tubal pregnancy building up under the diaphragm). The pain is usually described as sharp and stabbing or crampy with tenderness starting on one side and often spreading throughout the abdomen.
Brown vaginal discharge, spotting or bleeding can be intermittent or continuous and may last days or even weeks. Dizziness or light-headedness and fainting can also be warning signs. Other signs include tender breasts, nausea, vomiting and decreased blood pressure. However, it may be difficult for a doctor to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, because the symptoms can also be present in a normal pregnancy.