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Anembryonic Pregnancy (Blighted Ovum)
Fertility Gynaecology Obstetrics 

A pregnancy where a placenta and sac grows, but a baby does not is called a blighted ovum or anembryonic pregnancy. As the name indicated, there is no developing baby or embryo inside the gestational sac in the womb. This may still show up as a positive urine pregnancy test because the placenta is still releasing the hormones which are tested on a pregnancy test. 

A blighted ovum is unfortunately not going to progress as a pregnancy and will result in a miscarriage, usually in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This happens because the body realizes that the baby is not developing correctly and it sheds the tissue and blood from the body. 

Causes of blighted ovum:

There is no single identified cause of a blighted ovum, but presumably when an egg is being fertilized, the cells which are supposed to multiply and make a baby don’t form and progress in development and this results in a blighted ovum. There is usually no underlying cause a to why this happens. 

Diagnosis and treatment of blighted ovum:

Diagnosis is almost always done via imaging studies like ultrasound which will show an empty sac but no embryo. The miscarriage may happen before the first ultrasound. 

Treatment of blighted ovum depends upon the decision between you and your health care provider. They may ask you to allow a natural miscarriage. This might take days to weeks for the bleeding to finish. Another option would be taking medications to complete the miscarriage or having surgical interventions like dilatation and curettage.

Once the miscarriage happens, your periods will resume, usually in the next 6-8 weeks. As this process is both emotionally and physically exhausting, most women prefer to wait a few months before trying to get pregnant again. This also gives them time to heal physically and emotionally. It should be kept in mind that a blighted ovum does not decrease the chances of normal future pregnancies.                                                                                  

You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 3188 5000.

This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.

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Greenslopes Obstetrics & Gynaecology is closely aligned with the Greenslopes Private Hospital which opened Brisbane’s newest maternity facility in February 2013.

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