When a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall and the embryo does not develop, it results in the condition called a blighted ovum or “anembryonic pregnancy”. Cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo. A blighted ovum usually occurs in the first trimester, even before the knowledge of pregnancy. A high level of chromosome abnormalities usually causes a woman’s body to naturally miscarry.
A blighted ovum can occur very early in pregnancy, even before obtaining the knowledge of pregnancy. Some may experience different signs of pregnancy such as a missed or late menstrual period and even a positive pregnancy test. The placenta continue to grow and support itself without a baby for a short time, and pregnancy hormones may continue to rise, which would lead to a belief that she is still pregnant. Until an ultrasound test is performed it is quite difficult to detect an empty womb or an empty gestational sac.
Studies show that 50% of first trimester miscarriages are due to blighted ovum and is usually the result of chromosomal problems. A woman’s body recognizes abnormal chromosome changes in a fetus and do not continue the pregnancy because the fetus will not develop into a healthy baby. This can be caused either by abnormal cell division or poor quality sperm or egg.
A woman’s body is capable of passing tissue on its own and there is usually no need for an invasive surgical procedure with a risk of complications. Therefore most doctors do not recommend a D&C for an early pregnancy loss. A D&C be beneficial in order to examine the tissues to determine a reason for the miscarriage.
Unfortunately, there are no preventive measures for blighted ovum. A blighted ovum is often a one time occurrence, and there are rare chances to experience again. Most doctors recommend couples to wait at least 1-3 regular menstrual cycles before trying to conceive again after any type of miscarriage.