During ovulation, an ovum, or egg, is released from a woman’s ovary each month. Fimbriae, small finger-like projections at the end of the fallopian tube, capture the egg and direct it inside. It is here, inside the fallopian tube, where conception usually occurs.
Sperm travel through the female reproductive system and into the fallopian tube, where they eventually join the egg. Only one sperm can fertilize the egg.
The newly fertilized egg then travels along the fallopian tube toward the uterus, where it can implant and develop until birth. In some cases, however, complications may cause the egg to implant in areas other than the uterine lining. Such an occurrence is known as an extra-uterine or ectopic pregnancy.
Although the majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes, they can also develop in the abdomen, ovaries, or the cervix.
If the pregnancy continues without intervention, it could cause the fallopian tube to rupture, resulting in life-threatening intra-abdominal bleeding. Because of this risk, an ectopic pregnancy is considered a medical emergency, and immediate medical attention is required.