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All to Know about Bighted Ovum

All to know about Blighted Ovum

What?

A blighted ovum (also known as “anembryonic pregnancy”) happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. Cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo itself. A blighted ovum occurs within the first trimester, often before a woman knows she is pregnant. A high level of chromosome abnormalities usually causes a woman’s body to naturally miscarry.

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One of the first things you need to know if you have been diagnosed with a blighted ovum is that this is a loss.  Give yourself time and permission to grieve.  This is a type of miscarriage, and you can help yourself in the grieving process by learning more about surviving a miscarriage.

Symptoms

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A blighted ovum feels similar to a normal pregnancy, even after the fertilized egg has stopped growing. That’s because the body — sensing something has implanted into the uterus — can keep acting like there’s a growing embryo there, producing hormones and causing early pregnancy symptoms. That means many people who eventually find out they have an anembryonic pregnancy are still getting positive pregnancy tests and experiencing symptoms like morning sickness, sore breasts and bloating. But a couple less normal signs can point toward a possible blighted ovum:

  • Heavy bleeding, similar to your period (some bleeding can be normal early in pregnancy, but heavy bleeding is worth a trip to see your healthcare practitioner)
  • Severe cramping (this can also point to other pregnancy complications, including an ectopic pregnancy, so make sure to get checked out)
  • An ultrasound at 7 weeks gestation showing an amniotic sac but no embryo

Causes

Miscarriages from a blighted ovum are often due to problems with chromosomes, the structures that carry genes. This may be from a poor-quality sperm or egg. Or, it may occur due to abnormal cell division. Regardless, your body stops the pregnancy because it recognizes this abnormality.

It's important to understand that you have done nothing to cause this miscarriage and you almost certainly could not have prevented it. For most women, a blighted ovum occurs only once

Treatment

In some cases, you don’t need to do anything to treat a blighted ovum. If your body recognizes early on that an embryo isn’t developing, it will expel the contents of your uterus — including the undeveloped fertilized egg — with bleeding similar to a heavy period. In fact, there are likely undiagnosed cases of blighted ovum that women think are simply a period coming a few days late.

If your doctor diagnoses blighted ovum, he will likely take a couple of treatment options:

  • Expectant management. Even if your blighted ovum is diagnosed with an ultrasound, and your body is still acting like it’s pregnant, doctors will often recommend waiting a few days or weeks to see whether your body passes the anembryonic pregnancy naturally.
  • Medication or surgery. Sometimes the hormones that an implanted embryo are producing also cause the uterus to keep sustaining that embryo, even if it’s not developing. In these cases, healthcare practitioners recommend either a pill called Cytotec (misoprostol), which helps spur the uterus to clear it contents, or a dilation and curettage (D&C), a brief surgical procedure that helps empty the uterus.

Diagnosis

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If you thought you had a normal pregnancy, you're not alone; many women with a blighted ovum think so because their levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) may increase. The placenta produces this hormone after implantation. With a blighted ovum, hCG can continue to rise because the placenta may grow for a brief time, even when an embryo is not present.

For this reason, an ultrasound test is usually needed to diagnose a blighted ovum -- to confirm that the pregnancy sac is empty.

 

After a Miscarriage

If you have received a diagnosis of a blighted ovum, discuss with your doctor what to do next. Some women have a dilation and curretage (D and C). This surgical procedure involves dilating the cervix and removing the contents of the uterus. Because a D and C immediately removes any remaining tissue, it may help you with mental and physical closure. It may also be helpful if you want a pathologist to examine tissues to confirm the reason for the miscarriage.

Using a medication such as misoprostol on an outpatient basis may be another option. However, it may take several days for your body to expel all tissue. With this medication, you may have more bleeding and side effects. With both options, you may have pain or cramping that can be treated.

Other women prefer to forego medical management or surgery. They choose to let their body pass the tissue by itself. This is mainly a personal decision, but discuss it with your doctor.

After a miscarriage, your doctor may recommend that you wait at least one to three menstrual cycles before trying to conceive again.

Prevention tips

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Early pregnancy losses in the first trimester are usually the result of chromosomal abnormalities, and what the mother is able to do to prevent a pregnancy loss is limited.

What mothers can try to do is to stay healthy. Do light exercises like taking a walk or doing household chores because, through exercise, stress can be reduced. This will also help to improve blood circulation around the uterus and help make a better womb environment, which could reduce chances of a blighted ovum happening. Refrain from overtaxing your body, and make sure not to do any strenuous activities.

Sources

pregnancycorner.com, baby-pedia.com, whattoexpect.com, mayoclinic.org, mamericanpregnancy.org, webmd.com


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