Blighted Ovum

A blighted ovum (anembryonic pregnancy) happens when a fertilized egg (embryo) attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. The pregnancy sac (placenta) continues to grow even though the embryo does not grow and develop. The pregnancy hormone is still secreted because the placenta has formed. This will result in a positive pregnancy test despite having an abnormal pregnancy. A blighted ovum occurs within the first trimester, sometimes before a woman knows she is pregnant. 


A blighted ovum is usually the result of chromosomal problems. This can be caused by abnormal cell division or poor quality sperm or egg.


Early on, signs of pregnancy may be experienced, such as:

  • A missed menstrual period.

  • Fatigue.

  • Feeling sick to your stomach (nauseous).

  • Sore breasts.

  • A positive pregnancy test. 

Then, signs of miscarriage may develop, such as:

  • Abdominal cramps.

  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting.

  • A menstrual period that is heavier than usual.


The diagnosis of a blighted ovum is made with an ultrasound test that shows an empty uterus or an empty gestational sac.


Your caregiver will help you decide what the best treatment is for you. Treatment for a blighted ovum includes:

  • Letting your body naturally pass the tissue of a blighted ovum.

  • Taking medicine to trigger the miscarriage.

  • Having a procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove the placental tissues.  

A D&C may be helpful if you would like the tissue examined to determine the reason for a miscarriage. Talk to your caregiver about the risks involved with this procedure.


  • Follow up with your caregiver to make sure that your pregnancy hormone returns to zero.

  • Wait at least 1 to 3 regular menstrual cycles before trying to get pregnant again, or as recommended by your caregiver.


  • You have worsening abdominal pain.

  • You have very heavy bleeding or use 1 to 2 pads every hour, for more than 2 hours.

  • You are dizzy, feel faint, or pass out.