Maybe you see those two lines on a pregnancy test and you cry tears of joy – after trying for so long, your family is finally expanding. Maybe you see those two lines on a pregnancy test and your heart skips a beat. You panic and feel like the world is crashing down on you. A positive pregnancy test can bring on a whirlwind of emotions. Sometimes, those emotions can get in the way of the important next steps you need to take for your health!
After having a positive pregnancy test, it’s important to confirm that your pregnancy is normal with the help of an ultrasound. An ultrasound will answer important questions for you and your medical providers and help determine the viability of the pregnancy. The ultrasound technologist will evaluate how far along you are, if baby has a heartbeat, if the pregnancy is in the uterus or outside of the uterus (called an Ectopic Pregnancy), whether the ovaries look normal, and more. This initial ultrasound is crucial for your health.
For the woman considering abortion, an ultrasound will also be useful in telling her how far along she is, whether the pregnancy is viable to begin with and if she has an abnormal pregnancy that cannot be treated by an abortion pill (called an Ectopic Pregnancy or Molar Pregnancy). An ultrasound will show if there is a pending miscarriage that needs to be treated medically with the care of an OBGYN. If it is too early to confirm the location and status of the pregnancy, precautions can be given to ensure that she doesn’t undergo any procedures until a normal pregnancy can be confirmed.
The results of the initial ultrasound, and any follow-up ultrasound exams, will help medical staff and the patient decide the next best steps.
PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/gestational-trophoblastic/patient/gtd-treatment-pdq. Accessed 06/19/2023. [PMID: 26389509]
Nancy Grossman. Am Fam Physician 2006 May 15;73(10):1703; 1703-4. Use of mifepristone for treatment of ectopic pregnancy. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2006/0515/p1703.html [PMID: 16734048]
Erin Hendriks, Rachel Rosenberg, Linda Prine. Am Fam Physician. 2020 May 15;101(10):599-606. Ectopic Pregnancy: Diagnosis and Management. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2020/0515/p599.html [PMID: 32412215]