A woman with a heterotopic pregnancy has one embryo (or more)
growing inside the uterus, and one embryo (or more) growing outside of the
uterus. Like any ectopic pregnancy, an embryo growing in the cervix, a
fallopian tube, or against the outside wall of the uterus can be dangerous for
the mother and must be removed.
Early in a heterotopic pregnancy, the ectopic embryo(s) can be
easily overlooked, because there are clear signs of pregnancy in the uterus.
That is why it is common for the first sign to be pain from a rupture of a
fallopian tube or the cervix.
Overall, heterotopic pregnancies are not common. They are most
common in women who have used assisted reproductive technology (ART) to become
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology