What Is a Blighted Ovum?
A blighted ovum is a pregnancy complication that occurs when an embryo does not develop as it should inside the uterus. The embryo stops growing within the first few weeks of pregnancy and is later expelled from the uterus during a miscarriage.
Symptoms of a Blighted Ovum
The most common symptom of a blighted ovum is a lack of fetal development in comparison to other women who are pregnant. Other symptoms may include:
- Delayed or missed period
- Vaginal spotting
- Pelvic cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in blood tests
Causes of a Blighted Ovum
The exact cause of a blighted ovum is unknown. It is thought that it may be due to genetic abnormalites that occur prior to conceiving or during early development. Other known risk factors for a blighted ovum include:
- Age over 35
- A history of miscarriages
- Smoking and alcohol use
- High stress levels
- Frequent use of NSAID pain relievers
Diagnosis of a Blighted Ovum
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a blighted ovum, it’s important to seek medical advice and have your condition properly diagnosed.
Your doctor may order a transvaginal ultrasound to check the size of the gestational sac and look for evidence of a fetal heartbeat. They may also take a sample of your blood to measure the hCG levels, as lower than expected hormone levels could indicate a blighted ovum.
Treatment of a Blighted Ovum
If a blighted ovum has been diagnosed, a doctor may recommend a surgical procedure known as a dilation and curettage (D&C) in order to remove the pregnancy tissue from your uterus.
Your healthcare team can also provide support and advice to help you cope with the emotional effects of miscarriage. This can include talking to a counsellor and joining a support group.
Prevention of a Blighted Ovum
There is no sure way to prevent a blighted ovum from occurring. However, it’s important to look after your overall health and wellbeing before and during pregnancy. This can include eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding harmful substances such as smoking and alcohol. Additionally, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor about any existing medical conditions, such as a history of miscarriages, which can increase your risk of experiencing a blighted ovum.