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Blighted ovum is a leading cause of early miscarriage . The American Pregnancy Association estimates that blighted ovum causes approximately 50 percent of all first-trimester miscarriages. About 20 percent of all pregnancies result in miscarriage.
A blighted ovum, also known as anembryonic pregnancy, occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall but does not develop into an embryo. An embryo sac will develop, but the embryo does not.
Blighted ovum miscarriage occurs very early in the first trimester of pregnancy, even before a woman knows that she is pregnant. Doctors can diagnose a blighted ovum with an ultrasound, which will show an empty womb or empty birth sac.
Blighted Ovum Causes
Blighted ovum is usually caused by chromosomal abnormalities, either the result of abnormal cell division or poor quality of the sperm or the egg. The woman’s body recognizes the abnormality and stops the pregnancy from progressing.
Signs of Blighted Ovum
Before a blighted ovum is diagnosed, a woman may experience signs of pregnancy, including a missed menstrual period or even a positive pregnancy test. Many women with blighted ovum believe their pregnancy is progressing normally, since their levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy, may increase. Levels of hCG continue to rise because the placenta may continue to grow, even though no embryo is developing.
A blighted ovum may also cause other signs of miscarriage, including abdominal cramps, vaginal spotting or vaginal bleeding, and a period that is heavier than usual.
Treatment for Blighted Ovum
Once you have been diagnosed with blighted ovum, you need to decide whether you want a surgical procedure or to continue with a natural miscarriage. This is a personal decision for many women. For early pregnancy miscarriages, many doctors recommend foregoing surgical procedures in favor or allowing a woman’s body to pass the tissue on its own and eliminating surgical complications.
A surgical procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C) may be used. In this surgical technique, the cervix is dilated and the contents of the uterus removed. Many women choose to have a D&C to give them closure to the miscarriage. It is also helpful if the couple had planned on having a pathologist examine the tissue to determine the reason for miscarriage.
It is important to note that blighted ovum is often a one-time occurrence.
Before trying to conceive after a miscarriage, many doctors recommend waiting one to three cycles.