Health Watch — Pregnancy: Blighted Ovum

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about pregnancy. One of the most common causes of early miscarriage is also one of the least known. A blighted ovum occurs when the fertilized egg implants but doesn’t develop.

Dr. Lisa Halvorson, a reproductive endocrinologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says this condition  can be confusing for women because they feel pregnant although they aren’t really. They have some of the early symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea and tender breasts, and they also get positive pregnancy test results. Spotting and cramps may be symptoms of a blighted ovum, and an ultrasound can confirm that there’s no embryo. Doctors usually suggest letting the situation resolve itself with the body ejecting or reabsorbing the uterine contents, but women who develop an infection or heavy bleeding may need medical intervention. A blighted ovum doesn’t usually affect later fertility.

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May 2007

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