Methotrexate for Ectopic Pregnancy
Methotrexate is typically given by injection. Two injection sites are sometimes used to administer one dose. This method increases absorption of all of the medicine.
How It Works
Methotrexate treatment can be given as a single shot or as several injections. If an ectopic pregnancy continues after 2 or 3 doses of methotrexate, surgical treatment is needed to remove the ectopic pregnancy.
During the week that you have methotrexate injections, your pregnancy hormone levels (human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG) are tested several times. Your doctor will look for a drop in hCG levels, which is a sign that the pregnancy is ending (hCG levels sometimes rise during the first few days of treatment, then drop).
Methotrexate series. Although it is an uncommon practice, methotrexate can be given every other day until pregnancy hormone (hCG) blood tests confirm that the pregnancy has ended. On alternate days, a medicine called leucovorin (folinic acid) is given by injection to decrease methotrexate side effects. Treatment time for a methotrexate series varies from case to case but can take a month or longer.
Why It Is Used
Methotrexate can be used to:
How Well It Works
Methotrexate works as well as surgery (salpingotomy) for treating an ectopic pregnancy when:1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine. Severe side effects from methotrexate are most likely to develop with long-term use, such as when it is used for cancer treatment.
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects include:
Rare side effects include:
Because of the risk of side effects, methotrexate treatment requires close medical supervision by a doctor who is experienced with this medicine. During methotrexate treatment, keep your doctor informed of any symptoms that you have.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
You will be advised to avoid the following until your treatment has finished:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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