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Blighted Ovum: Symptoms & Support

last year11 min read
Last updated: Jan 20 2023

If you’re trying to conceive, experiencing a blighted ovum can feel lonely, exhausting, and devastating. But you’re not alone.

Blighted Ovum

While many people choose to hide this very real aspect of trying to conceive, miscarriages, unfortunately, happen.

They happen a lot, and sometimes, with little to no reason at all.

You did absolutely nothing wrong.

And however you feel right now it totally valid. Okay?

A blighted ovum is usually caused by some sort of chromosomal irregularity that results in the embryo not wanting to grow.

Whether you were very stressed, had a vaccination, had wild sex after conceiving, drank too much green tea, or did too much extreme scrapbooking has no bearing on the occurrence of a blighted ovum.

So one more time: you did nothing wrong.

Now let’s take a look at what a blighted ovum is, and what it means when TTC.

Content warning ahead: we discuss some difficult topics, so if you don’t want to read about pregnancy loss or blighted ovum miscarriage, you don’t have to.

In this article: 📝

  • What is a blighted ovum?
  • Do you see a yolk sac with blighted ovum?
  • How long can you carry a blighted ovum?
  • What are the chances of a blighted ovum?
  • Blighted ovum symptoms
  • Blighted ovum treatment
  • Can you have a misdiagnosed blighted ovum?

What is a blighted ovum?

A blighted ovum is a very early loss of pregnancy.

Essentially, the process gets interrupted.

Heard the term “empty gestational sac” or “anembryonic pregnancy”?

Yup, that’s what we’re talking about here. This is how it goes:

  • Your egg gets fertilized by a winning sperm, as per usual.
  • The fertilized egg (as it usually would) attaches to the wall of the uterus.
  • The embryo, however, doesn’t grow.
  • The gestational sac still develops to keep its contents safe, but the embryo itself doesn’t.

An ovum is an egg cell that’s released from your ovaries (also called an oocyte).

Blighted means that something has been, in some way, damaged.

So, sadly, a blighted ovum is a fertilized egg cell that doesn’t survive.

How is a blighted ovum diagnosed?

To find out if you have a blighted ovum, an ultrasound is the best way of diagnosing it.

The ultrasound will show a pregnancy sac without an embryo, and can sometimes be detected during your first ultrasound.

Does a blighted ovum have a heartbeat?

No, usually, once you hear a heartbeat, the chances of pregnancy loss, or a blighted ovum miscarriage, are significantly reduced.

A blighted ovum miscarriage doesn’t usually have a heartbeat at this early stage in pregnancy.

Do you see a yolk sac with blighted ovum?

Yes, you may see a yolk sac with a blighted ovum miscarriage, without an embryo.

Can a blighted ovum be ectopic?

Sometimes, yes, a blighted ovum can also be an ectopic pregnancy.

However, the two are not necessarily linked ‒ someone could have a blighted ovum without an ectopic pregnancy, and vice versa.

Ectopic pregnancy

How long can you carry a blighted ovum?

Blighted ovum pregnancies will typically be diagnosed at your first ultrasound.

What’s interesting is that you still may experience some of the hormonal shifts of pregnancy, even though the embryo is not growing.

With a blighted ovum, your levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG, for example, may keep going up as the gestational sac grows.

That’s why you may test positive on a home pregnancy test, even though the sac is empty.

It’s only when you visit your doc and they do an ultrasound that you realize that the process is not happening as it should.

Of course, this can feel pretty darn awful—like the rug has been pulled from beneath your feet as your positive result is taken away from you.

So, to grieve with a blighted ovum is a natural response.

Do what you need to do to feel safe.

Surround yourself with loved ones, talk to women who have been through the same, do all the stress-relieving things that work for you (yoga, meditation, screaming off bridges—that kind of thing).

Take the time you need.

Is a blighted ovum considered a miscarriage?

Yes, a blighted ovum is a miscarriage in the very early phases of pregnancy.

Even a 12 week blighted ovum miscarriage is still early in pregnancy, just like an 8 week blighted ovum miscarriage ‒ although a blighted ovum can only happen in the first trimester.

In fact, it may happen before you even know you’re pregnant.

Because a blighted ovum miscarriage happens so early, it may leave you with a bundle of confusing emotions.

How are you actually supposed to feel about this?

The good news is, when it comes to feeling emotions, there are no wrong answers.

Whatever’s coming up is completely and utterly correct for you.

What causes a blighted ovum miscarriage?

There’s usually no reason at all for a blighted ovum miscarriage.

A blighted ovum could be due to chromosomal differences, but it’s often too early to accurately tell.

At what stage do blighted ovums usually miscarry?

Generally speaking, blighted ovums tended to happen between 7-12 weeks of pregnancy.

This is one of the reasons many mamas-to-be wait until the 12-week rule to announce their pregnancy.

After 12 weeks, the chance of pregnancy loss, like a blighted ovum miscarriage, is significantly reduced.

What percentage of miscarriages are blighted ovum?

It’s hard to tell how many pregnancy losses are due to a blighted ovum miscarriage, but according to American Pregnancy, it could account for as many as 50% of first trimester miscarriages.

Can a baby survive blighted ovum?

Unfortunately, a blighted ovum will not survive ‒ it essentially means that there is no embryo.

However, people who have has blighted ovum miscarriages before can go on to have healthy, full-term pregnancies.

A blighted ovum does not have an impact on any future pregnancies, as long as there are no further complications.

If you think you may have a blighted ovum, or a blighted ovum is detected during your 8-week ultrasound, speak to your doctor about the next best step.

Depending on how far along you are, your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove the gestational sac.

What are the chances of a blighted ovum?

If you have a blighted ovum miscarriage, you’re not alone, mama.

Many waiting mamas out there have gone through or are going through the exact same thing.

How common is a blighted ovum?

So how common is a blighted ovum?

A blighted ovum miscarriage is in fact the most common type, accounting for 50% of miscarriages in the first trimester.

And around 15% of all pregnancies sadly result in a pregnancy loss before 13 weeks.

So a blighted ovum happens for approximately 7% of all pregnancies.

How many times can blighted ovum occur?

Typically, you’ll not have two blighted ovum miscarriages in a row, unless they’re caused by another underlying fertility or medical condition.

The majority of TTC mamas who have a blighted ovum pregnancy then go on to have happy, healthy babies.

Can you have a blighted ovum with twins?

Sometimes, yes, a very early twin pregnancy can result in one of the embryos not developing ‒ a blighted ovum.

However, a blighted ovum may not impact your other embryo ‒ they may continue to grow up to be a healthy baby.

Blighted ovum symptoms

What are the signs of a blighted ovum?

This is a bit of a tricky question to answer because blighted ovum symptoms are pretty similar to what you could experience for other reasons at this early point of pregnancy.

So what will a blighted ovum feel and look like?

Well, like most things pregnancy-related, it depends on your amazingly unique body.

Do you bleed with a blighted ovum?

Yes, chances are that’s going to happen.

Blighted ovum bleeding will be something like a period and last for about a week.

One pro tip? Use pads rather than tampons.

By your next period (in about 3 to 6 weeks) all should be back to normal and you can use tampons again.

Do you feel pain with a blighted ovum?

Yes, pain and a blighted ovum also tend to go hand in hand.

You may feel cramps (from mild to more severe) in your lower abdomen.

As with the bleeding saga, this is because your body now needs to get rid of the sac, and this process may be accompanied by some discomfort.

Sometimes the process will just happen naturally and other times your doc will give you some meds to help you along.

Can you still have nausea with a blighted ovum?

Yes, you may still experience pregnancy nausea and morning sickness with a blighted ovum.

This could be due to, in part, rising hCG levels, which may continue to increase a few weeks after a blighted ovum miscarriage.

Can stress cause blighted ovum?

No, not directly, stress cannot cause a blighted ovum.

Stress may not be good for you, and can have an impact on other elements of your health, which can cause issues with pregnancy, but no, in and of itself, stress will not cause a blighted ovum.

Blighted ovum discharge

You may have some leukorrhea (pregnancy discharge) before, during, and after a blighted ovum miscarriage.

Sometimes, your body continues as though there is still a viable embryo, for a while, which can be mentally and physically difficult.

Blighted ovum hCG levels

You may notice that you continue to test positive on a pregnacy test after having a blighted ovum miscarriage.

This is because your hCG levels may continue to rise for a few weeks after ‒ your body may have all the elements of a pregnancy, just except the embryo.

But at about 6-8 weeks, or a couple of weeks after a blighted ovum pregnancy loss, you’ll notice your hCG levels returning to pre-pregnancy levels.

Blighted ovum treatment

So, after a blighted ovum experience, your body is going to have to go through a recovery period. Let it.

While blighted ovum prevention may not be so easy, there are definitely steps to take that will help you get better.

First things first, go on your healing journey hand-in-hand with your healthcare provider.

Follow-up appointments matter.

They’ll advise you about how to navigate the next phase, from what pain medication you can take (Advil and Tylenol are usually fine), and whether they want to do any tests.

Healthy diets rich in iron, taking care of your mental health, reaching out to other women for support, and avoiding sex are some of the things that may help you on the road to recovery.

How can I avoid blighted ovum?

We’re sorry to say that there’s nothing you can do to prevent a blighted ovum.

There’s often no real cause for a blighted ovum ‒ it can happen to anyone, but doesn’t mean that you won’t have a healthy pregnancy eventually.

Can you have a misdiagnosed blighted ovum?

They are rare, but there are a few misdiagnosed blighted ovum success stories.

This is because it’s still very early in pregnancy, so a blighted ovum ultrasound can be misinterpreted.

But if you’re after blighted ovum success stories, the main narrative you’ll find is pregnancy after blighted ovum success stories.

A blighted ovum does not have to mean the end to your TTC journey, but you take all the time you need.

This is hard.

And in case you need to hear it one more time: this is not your fault.

If you have suffered a blighted ovum miscarriage, know that whatever you’re feeling is completely valid and that you’re allowed to take the time to grieve.

Take care of yourself.

💡 More from The 411:
Pregnancy After Loss: How to Cope With the Anxiety
Why My Miscarriage Made Me Realise I Wanted Children
What is a Threatened Miscarriage? (and Why We Don’t Call it That)
Meghan Markle, You’re Not Alone - Here’s Why
What to Say to Someone Who Had a Miscarriage

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