What is it?

A blighted ovum occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but does not develop into an embryo. The placenta and embryonic sac form, but remain empty. There’s no growing baby. It’s also known as an-embryonic gestation or anembryonic pregnancy. Even though there’s no embryo, the placenta still produces human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is a hormone designed to support pregnancy. Blood and urine pregnancy tests look for hCG, so blighted ovum can result in a positive pregnancy test even though the pregnancy isn’t actually proceeding. Pregnancy-related symptoms, such as sore breasts and nausea, may also occur. A blighted ovum eventually leads to miscarriage. It’s not able to turn into a viable pregnancy.

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Signs & symptoms

A blighted ovum sometimes ends before you realize you’re pregnant. When this happens, you may just think you’re having a heavier-than-normal menstrual period.
It may have the same symptoms associated with pregnancy, such as:
- a positive pregnancy test
- sore breasts
- a missed period
As the pregnancy ends, symptoms may include those of miscarriage. These can include:
- vaginal spotting or bleeding
- abdominal cramping
- disappearance of breast soreness

Pregnancy tests measure hCG levels, so a blighted ovum can continue to result in positive test results before the tissues are passed.


A blighted ovum is often discovered on the first ultrasound given during a prenatal appointment. The sonogram will show the placenta and empty embryonic sac. A blighted ovum usually occurs between the 8th and 13th weeks of pregnancy.


If blighted ovum is discovered during a prenatal appointment, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. These may include:
- waiting for miscarriage symptoms to occur naturally
- taking medication, such as misoprostol (Cytotec), to bring on a miscarriage
- having a surgical procedure (dilation and curettage) to remove the placental tissues from the uterus

The length of your pregnancy, medical history, and emotional state will all be taken into account when you and your doctor are deciding upon a treatment option. You’ll want to discuss the side effects and the standard risks associated with any type of medication or surgical procedure.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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