A blighted ovum is the term given to an instance in which an egg is fertilized and implants itself within the uterus, though does not develop into an embryo. It remains one of the most common causes of miscarriage and general failures of pregnancy in the early months. Also known in the medical profession as an anembryonic, a blighted ovum can often occur in the very early stages of pregnancy without the affected individual ever having realized they were pregnant. It is estimated that at least 50% of all miscarriages suffered within the first three months of pregnancy are caused by a blighted ovum.

What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Blighted Ovum?

About six weeks after a fertilized egg attach itself within the uterus, it should have developed into an embryo – the gestation sac will be around18mm wide. In the case of a blighted ovum, the sac develops and grows as normal, but does not contain the embryo. It is for this reason that the alternative name for a blighted ovum is an anembryonic pregnancy.


As mentioned, a blighted ovum is the leading cause of miscarriage in pregnant women before the end of their first trimester. The cause of a blighted ovum is a simple natural response by the body, having picked up on signs that there is something wrong with the fertilized egg. When the body detects the presence of abnormal chromosomes in the fetus, it abandons its efforts to develop the baby and thus leads to something of a natural termination. There are many reasons why the fetus’ development may be abandoned, including poor quality sperm or defects with the egg itself.


A woman can be affected by a blighted ovum during her pregnancy at such an early stage that she may not in fact realize she was pregnant at all. Other women will experience all the usual symptoms of pregnancy, ranging from missed periods to morning sickness and right through to pregnancy tests that come out positive. The body can give off so many signs that would suggest the pregnancy is going as it should until an ultrasound examination is carried out, when it can be determined that the fetus is not developing. Other symptoms include vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramps, though these are hardly uncommon in most women during early pregnancy.

How to Diagnose a Blighted Ovum

As the affected woman’s levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are likely to increase, chances are they will assume that their pregnancy is going along as it should be. After a fertilized egg has been implanted in the uterus, the hormone is produced more vigorously by the placenta and thus triggers a rise in body’s overall levels – even if the implanted egg will not develop into a fetus. This is precisely why a physical examination is the only guaranteed way of diagnosing a blighted ovum.

Can You Prevent Blighted Ovum?

The sad news is that there’s really not a great deal anyone can do to rule out the chance of suffering a blighted ovum. There could be a genetic cause behind the problem, it could be a case of simple bad luck or it could come down to poor quality sperm and/or eggs. Most women will only ever suffer a blighted ovum once in their lifetime and those that seem to be affected on a more regular basis will in most cases be thoroughly investigated by doctors. Generally speaking, healthy lifestyle choices are the only recommendations for increasing chances of conception.

How Can You Deal with Blighted Ovum?

Being diagnosed with a blighted ovum is never anything less than tragic, but it’s nonetheless of crucial importance to discuss with your doctor what happens next. What to do after you are diagnosed with blighted ovum?

  • Dilation and Curettage. You can opt for a procedure of D and C, which is the abbreviated term for a dilation and curettage. This is where a procedure is carried out to dilate the cervix and physically remove its contents – the egg is removed along with any remaining tissue. This is chosen by women who would either like their tissues to be examined to hopefully find the cause of the blighted ovum, along with those seeking the fastest possible closure.
  • Misoprostol . Another option is misoprostol. This speeds up the process of ridding the uterus of its contents, though it can take a few days at least before the process is complete. The medicinal route can also bring with it fairly unpleasant side effects like bleeding and cramps.
  • Wait for It to Recover. The third option is to allow nature to take control of what happens next and forego any drugs or surgery altogether. Your doctor may advise for or against the natural option depending on the individual’s health and general wellbeing.

As for which of the choices any given woman should opt for, the doctor will advise on a case by case basis though will always leave the ultimate decision to the patient. In all cases, it’s likely that the doctor will advise the patient to wait for up to three menstrual cycles to pass before trying for a baby again.

Getting Pregnant Again After Blighted Ovum

What all women must understand is that suffering an early pregnancy failure does not in any way mean they are more likely to suffer a blighted ovum or miscarriage the next time around. However, it’s important to be fully checked over by medical professionals to make sure there is no underlying health problem that’s responsible for causing the fertility problem in the first place.

As for trying again, most doctors will advise that you wait until around three menstrual cycles have passed before attempting to conceive once again. Some insist that six weeks is more than enough time and other say your period will tell you when you’re ready – in any and all cases advice will be given in accordance with the individual patient and their health.