What You Need to Know about Having a Blighted Ovum

A blighted ovum is a type of miscarriage that occurs when an embryo fails to develop. These losses are heart-wrenching.

In February 2017, my husband and I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with our fourth child. We settled into the idea quickly, but at almost ten weeks, we discovered things weren’t okay. Despite the nausea and first trimester symptoms, no baby was growing. My doctor diagnosed me with a blighted ovum and gave me a few options. A week and a half later, I miscarried at home with my husband by my side.

Related: Pregnancy Soon After Miscarriage May Lower Odds of Subsequent Loss

Before our loss, a blighted ovum wasn’t on my radar. I had never heard of the term. Of course, I spent hours on Google after our ultrasound, learning everything I could.

Here is what you need to know about a blighted ovum.

What is a Blighted Ovum?

During a normal pregnancy, the sperm fertilizes the egg after ovulation that implants into your uterine walls around ten days post ovulation. After implantation, the embryo begins to produce the hormone HCG which gives you a positive pregnancy test. The embryo continues to develop, and a little fetus appears on an ultrasound by six weeks pregnant.

A blighted ovum is different. The embryo development stops early in the pregnancy, but the gestational sac can continue to grow. That happened in my circumstance because my gestational sac measured eight weeks pregnant, just a week behind the dates based on my last menstrual cycle.

Two possibilities occurred when you have a blighted ovum. The fertilized egg may have never developed into an embryo, but it still implanted into the uterus. The other possibility is that the embryo stopped developing a few days after implantation.

Related: Pregnancy After a Miscarriage: How to Let Go of the Fears

What Causes a Blighted Ovum?

Understand that nothing you or your partner did caused a blighted ovum. For my recovery, understanding I couldn’t prevent this from occurring was important. They are typically a result of a chromosomal abnormality, such as extra chromosomes or missing chromosomes.

How Can you Diagnosis a Blighted Ovum?

A lot of cases are never diagnosed because you have an early miscarriage. In other situations, such as my own, a blighted ovum is diagnosed at your doctor’s appointment around seven to eight weeks along. At this point, an ultrasound will find an empty gestational sac with no embryo or fetal pole.

Can You Have a Successful Pregnancy Afterward?

Absolutely! My husband and I conceived again in June of 2017 and recently delivered our baby girl in March 2018. However, moving on from a blighted ovum is similar to moving on from any miscarriage. Expect to feel upset and emotional. You experienced a loss, so give yourself as much time as necessary.

Speak to your doctor about when you can try to get pregnant again. Some doctors advise to wait for a full cycle after your loss, and your cycle could be delayed afterward. Conceiving soon after a blighted ovum doesn’t increase your likelihood of having another loss. When you are ready to try again, chances of having a successful pregnancy is high.

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