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Blighted ovum: What causes it?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/blighted-ovum/AN00418
- With Mayo Clinic gynecologist and obstetrician
Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.read biographyclose window
Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
Dr. Mary Gallenberg is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine and medical oncology.
An Antigo, Wis., native, Dr. Gallenberg is a consultant in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and an assistant professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Gallenberg has been with Mayo Clinic since 1990. She was on the Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource editorial board and has been honored for excellence in teaching. She also won a Mayo Clinic Excellence Through Teamwork award.
Risk factors (3)
- Pregnancy and hot tubs: What's the risk?
- Early miscarriage: Is stress a factor?
- Paternal age: How does it affect a baby?
- Blighted ovum: What causes it?
Blighted ovum: What causes it?
What causes a blighted ovum?
from Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
A blighted ovum, also called an anembryonic pregnancy, occurs when a fertilized egg develops a placenta and membrane but no embryo — often due to chromosomal abnormalities in the fertilized egg. A blighted ovum usually occurs in the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she's pregnant.
With a blighted ovum, a woman may miss a period and have a positive pregnancy test. This is because the placenta secretes human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a pregnancy hormone. Symptoms of early pregnancy — such as fatigue and breast tenderness — are possible as well. But when the placenta stops growing and hormone levels decrease, the pregnancy symptoms subside. At this point, minor abdominal cramping and light spotting or bleeding are possible. An ultrasound will show an empty gestational sac.
A blighted ovum eventually results in miscarriage. Some women choose to wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally, while others take medication to trigger the miscarriage. In some cases, a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C) is used to remove the placental tissues.
Most women who've had a blighted ovum go on to have successful pregnancies. If you experience multiple consecutive miscarriages, you might consider testing to identify any underlying causes.Next question
Pregnancy and hot tubs: What's the risk?
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- Uzelac PS, et al. Early pregnancy risks. In: DeCherney AH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2007. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2384827. Accessed Sept. 20, 2010.
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- Tulandi T, et al. Spontaneous abortion: Risk factors, etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnostic evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 20, 2010.