Pregnancy is a very complicated process and one that is not always successful. A pregnancy occurs when a woman’s egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm which is termed conception, and the fertilized egg then implants or attaches itself to a woman’s uterus. From there the cells divide as it grows and develops into a fetus, resulting in pregnancy.
When a fertilized egg is instead expelled from the woman’s body or the fetus is born before developing properly within 20 weeks of conception, this is called a miscarriage. A miscarriage can happen at any time of a woman’s pregnancy, including within the first few days of conception. If miscarriage happens very early on, a woman may not have even known she was pregnant.
Facts About Blighted Ovum
There are many things that can interrupt a pregnancy and cause a miscarriage, and blighted ovum is just one such cause. This is when the fertilized egg implants itself as it should to the uterine walls but doesn’t go on to develop into an embryo, and is then expelled from the woman’s body typically during her next menstrual cycle. At about the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy an embryo should have developed and the gestational sac inside of which the fetus grows and develops is about 18 millimeters wide.
However, with a blighted ovum this gestational sac appears but the embryo does not grow or develop properly. The medical term for this is anembryonic pregnancy, and it is the leading cause of miscarriage or pregnancy failure. For most women, they do not even know they’re pregnant when this blighted ovum incident occurs as it happens so early during a pregnancy. About half of all miscarriages that happen within the first trimester of pregnancy are the result of blighted ovum.
Causes of a Blighted Ovum
It’s vital that women realize that a blighted ovum and the resultant miscarriage are not her fault. As said, often a woman does not even know she is pregnant when this occurs, and there is nothing she can do to prevent it from occurring.
Typically the miscarriages that result from a blighted ovum are because of problems with chromosomes within the fertilized egg; chromosomes are what carry genes and help a human to develop. If there is poor-quality sperm or egg that goes into making the developing fetus or if the cell division that occurs after fertilization is abnormal in any way, the body naturally stops the pregnancy because it recognizes this abnormality. In most cases, a blighted ovum and the resultant miscarriage happen only once in a woman’s life, if at all.
Symptoms of Blighted Ovum
For most women, the symptoms of blighted ovum and the resultant pregnancy are similar. She may have a positive pregnancy test or a missed period.
Common symptoms of the resultant miscarriage include:
1. Cramps in the abdominal area.
2. Spotting or vaginal bleeding.
3. A heavier than average menstrual cycle.
4. Heavier bleeding and these resultant symptoms should be checked by a doctor.
Diagnosis of a Blighted Ovum
The female body begins to produce a certain type of hormone after a fertilized egg implants itself on the uterine wall, called human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG. This is detected by pregnancy tests for a positive result. Because a blighted ovum still attaches to the uterine wall, hCG may be present in a woman’s system and she may have a positive pregnancy test. The best way to diagnose a blighted ovum is with an ultrasound, as this will show that the pregnancy sac is empty even though the placenta is growing for a short time.
After the Miscarriage
A blighted ovum may occur without a woman’s knowledge, but if she has had a positive pregnancy test, it’s good to be in touch with the doctor for follow-up care after a miscarriage. Some women may have what is called a D and C, or dilation and curettage. This process dilates the cervix so that the contents of the uterus can be cleaned away. Some women choose this to have physical closure of the miscarriage and it may also assist a pathologist to determine the cause of any miscarriage.
As a miscarriage may be a long process, some women choose a medication such as misoprostol. This helps the body to expel all the tissue from the uterus. This and other medications may cause additional bleeding and other side effects; a doctor can explain these in detail. Pain and cramping may also be present with both treatment options and these too can typically be treated.
Most doctors also recommend that a woman wait at least three menstrual cycles after a miscarriage before attempting another pregnancy, so that the body can rid itself of excess tissue and heal from any resultant trauma associated with miscarriage.