When a fertilized egg implants itself in the uterus but does not form an embryo, it is known as a blighted ovum or anembryonic pregnancy. Most miscarriages occur due to this. The placenta and embryo sac are formed in the stomach, but remain empty. One cannot become a growing child. Even if no embryo forms, the placenta still produces human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). This hormone is necessary for pregnancy. HCG hormone can be found when seen in blood and urine tests, so a blighted ovum may result in a positive pregnancy test, even if an embryo is not forming in the womb.

When a woman becomes pregnant, the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. At about five to six weeks of pregnancy, the embryo should become visible. At this time, the gestational sac – where the embryo develops – is about 18 millimeters wide. Other pregnancy-related symptoms, such as breast pain and nausea, may also occur.

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  1. How Does Blighted Ovum Miscarriage Start
  2. Symptoms of Anembryonic Pregnancy
  3. Causes of Anembryonic Pregnancy
  4. Treatment of Anembryonic Pregnancy
  5. Treatment Options
  6. Can Blighted Ovum be Prevented
  7. Does Blighted Ovum affect Next Pregnancy?
  8. Summary

Blighted ovum can cause vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramps due to miscarriage. Miscarriages usually occur more frequently than your regular menstruation. To get relief from cramps, you can take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen. Avoid lifting any heavy objects or doing any strenuous exercise as this may increase bleeding. You may have spotting for several weeks after an abortion.

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A blighted ovum can sometimes be gone before you know you are pregnant, which may make you feel like you are having more periods than usual. Blighted ovum may have similar symptoms to those associated with pregnancy, such as:

  • positive pregnancy test
  • breast pain

  • missed menstrual period

As pregnancy ends, the following symptoms may occur such as –

  • vaginal bleeding or bleeding
  • stomach cramps

  • breast pain goes away

  • Pregnancy tests measure hCG levels.

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This condition is not caused by anything you did or did not do during or before pregnancy. The exact cause of blighted ovum is not known. But it is thought to be caused by chromosomal abnormalities occurring within the fertilized egg which may be caused by genetics, or a poor quality egg or sperm. Blighted eggs can also be caused by abnormalities within the chromosomes. If repeated blighted ovum pregnancies occur, talk to your doctor about chromosomal analysis of the embryo. The blighted ovum develops so quickly that it cannot be identified. However, women tend to have healthy pregnancies after getting treatment for the condition. Blighted ovum may occur once or more than once. Most women whose eggs are damaged go on to have successful pregnancies and healthy babies.

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The first ultrasound often detects a damaged egg. Ultrasound will show the placenta and empty fetal sac. Blighted ovum usually occurs between the 8th and 13th week of pregnancy.


Treatment Options

If a prenatal ultrasound detects a blighted ovum, your doctor may offer the following treatment options:

  • Waiting for miscarriage symptoms to occur naturally
  • taking medications to induce abortion

  • Having surgery to remove tissue from the uterus

The doctor takes into account the length of pregnancy, medical history, and emotional state before deciding on a treatment option to discuss the side effects and standard risks associated with the medication or surgical procedure you may need.

Didn't have a child, yet a pregnancy was lost. Miscarriage can be emotionally difficult, and it may take longer than anticipated for the pregnancy to end. For this reason, some women decide to have a surgical or medication abortion. Other women are uncomfortable with these options and prefer to allow the abortion to occur on its own.

Therefore, it is best to discuss all options with your doctor and let him know if you are uncomfortable with any option.

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Generally, blighted ovum cannot be prevented. If concerned about this condition, talk to your doctor about possible genetic causes and testing procedures so they can help you avoid it.


Like any miscarriage, it takes time for the body and emotional health to heal. Most women who undergo blighted ovum have successful pregnancies. Before trying to conceive again it is usually recommended that you wait three full menstrual cycles to allow the body time to fully heal and a pregnancy can be achieved completely properly. During this time, focus on healthy lifestyle habits for body and mental health, such as:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • keep stress away

  • Exercise

  • Taking medicines for daily prenatal strength

Having a miscarriage once does not mean that it will happen again. There are just some factors associated with this type of miscarriage that you should discuss with your doctor. These factors include genetics, egg quality, and sperm quality. Some tests may be done for these reasons:

  • Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), genetic analysis of the embryo that may be performed before implantation in the uterus
  • Semen analysis, which is used to determine sperm quality

  • FSH or anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) testing, which can be used to help improve egg quality

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There is no specific cause of blighted ovum, but chromosomal anomalies may be a main factor. Most women who experience it go on to have healthy pregnancies.


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