Unembryonic pregnancy or anembryotic pregnancy? Have you ever heard about unembryonic pregnancy or anembryotic pregnancy? Actually, the correct term is anembryonic pregnancy. What does anembryonic pregnancy mean?
Do you know what is an anembryonic pregnancy or blighted ovum? Know everything about it here!
What is an anembryonic pregnancy or blighted ovum?
A blighted ovum happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. Cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo itself.
What does anembryonic pregnancy mean?
In normal cases, when a woman becomes pregnant, the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. At about five to six weeks of pregnancy, an embryo should be present, together with the gestational sac.
With a blighted ovum, though, the pregnancy sac forms and grows, but the embryo does not develop. That’s why a blighted ovum is also called an anembryonic pregnancy.
How long can an anembryonic pregnancy last?
Have you been thinking about how long can an anembryonic pregnancy last?
An anembryonic pregnancy blighted ovum occurs early on, within the first trimester, even before the woman may have realized she is pregnant. It will cause a miscarriage usually at 7-12 weeks of pregnancy. The body realizes that the pregnancy is not developing properly and starts to shed blood and tissue from the uterus.
Pregnancy hormones are still produced in case of an anembryonic pregnancy blighted ovum, so it can show as a positive pregnancy test early on.
Blighted ovum or anembryonic pregnancy causes
What causes anembryonic pregnancy?
In a normal pregnancy, the egg starts dividing within hours after being fertilized.
Around 10 days later, the cells will have formed an embryo, which will implant itself in the uterus. Then the placenta begins to develop and hormone levels begin to surge.
Anembryonic pregnancy causes
With a blighted ovum, the cells never divide to the point of forming an embryo, or the embryo stops growing very shortly after it implants in the uterus.
What causes anembryonic pregnancy? Studies have revealed that a blighted ovum pregnancy usually happens because of abnormal chromosomes in the fetus. This can be caused by abnormal cell division or poor quality of sperm or egg. The body terminates the pregnancy because the fetus will not develop into a healthy baby.
It is important to understand that it was not your fault and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it from happening. For most women, a blighted ovum occurs only once. If you have repeated blighted ovum pregnancies, talk to your doctor about a chromosomal analysis of your embryos.
Blighted ovum or anembryonic pregnancy symptoms
In many cases, a blighted ovum can occur very early in pregnancy before most women even know that they are pregnant.
A blighted ovum may have the same early symptoms associated with pregnancy. The following are some of anembryonic pregnancy symptoms that a woman may experience:
As the pregnancy ends, symptoms may include miscarriage. These can include:
Diagnosis and anembryonic pregnancy treatment
A blighted ovum is usually detected on the first ultrasound given during a prenatal appointment. Sometimes, there may have been bleeding at the start of the pregnancy and an ultrasound is used to investigate.
It will show the placenta and empty embryonic sac. In some cases, a transvaginal ultrasound, in which a wand is inserted directly into the vagina, may be used to confirm a blighted ovum if the results of a standard abdominal ultrasound are inconclusive.
In case of a blighted ovum, your doctor may suggest these anembryonic pregnancy treatment options:
Wait for miscarriage symptoms to occur naturally.
Your doctor is the one who knows if this process is suited for your condition. What will be done is watch and wait for your body to release the pregnancy tissues eventually. You will be under sedation or general anesthesia. You may experience abdominal pain, cramping, and bleeding once the miscarriage starts.
Take medication to bring on a miscarriage.
Your doctor may give you a medicine called misoprostol. The said medicine will trigger your body to miscarry. You may experience bleeding, cramping, and abdominal pain as an effect of the medicine and as the miscarriage begins. If you want to lessen the time waiting for your body to miscarry then, medication-induced miscarriage might be recommended to you.
Have a D and C (dilation and curettage) surgical procedure to remove the placental tissues from the uterus.
In this process, you will be under sedation or general anesthesia. Your doctor will remove the pregnancy tissues from your uterus by opening your cervix using medical tools and suction.
Your doctor will discuss the options with you. You will want to discuss the side effects and the standard risks associated with any type of medication or surgical procedure, including a D and C.
You might choose to allow a natural miscarriage to happen. Once this starts, it can take days to weeks for the bleeding to finish. If the bleeding is getting heavier, if you are in pain or if you feel unwell, see your doctor.
Your doctor also needs to monitor the process to ensure that all the tissue in the uterus has been appropriately expelled. If tissue remains in the uterus after the miscarriage, a D&C may still be required. If the tissue is not removed, an infection can occur and lead to a potentially serious complication called a septic miscarriage.
A D&C will also be helpful if you want a pathologist to examine tissues to confirm the reason for the miscarriage.
Experts estimate that a third of early pregnancy loss, those before 8 weeks gestation, are due to blighted ovum.
Some risk factors include:
- Chromosomal abnormalities
- History of miscarriage
- Being older than 35
- Infections such as toxoplasmosis, chlamydia, or syphilis
- Uterine abnormalities
- Luteal phase defect
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Diabetes and Thyroid diseases
- Exposure to toxins (for example, pesticides) and ionizing radiation
How to cope with a blighted ovum
The loss of a pregnancy can be very hard. It is natural to feel upset, sad, or even guilty. In case of a blighted ovum, remember that it wasn’t your fault, and there was no way that you could have prevented it.
Talking to family members, friends, a counselor, or your doctor may help you cope with your loss.
Here are some things you need to take note of after a blighted ovum:
- You will probably have vaginal bleeding, similar to a heavy period, for up to a week. Use pads instead of tampons. You may use tampons during your next period, which should start in 3 to 6 weeks.
- You may have cramps for several days after the miscarriage. Over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help. Inform your doctor if you have any severe pain.
- Monitor your temperature in the evening for the next five days after the miscarriage. Call your doctor if you have a temperature above 100°F.
- Your doctor may want you to collect tissue that you might pass. Use a clear container for it and take it to your doctor as soon as you can.
- Do not have sex until the bleeding stops.
- It is also recommended that you avoid heavy exercise until the bleeding stops.
- If you plan to get pregnant again, check with your doctor. Most doctors suggest waiting until you have had at least one normal period before you try to get pregnant. If you do not want to get pregnant, ask your doctor about birth control.
- Eat a balanced diet that is high in iron and vitamin C. You may be low in iron because of blood loss. Talk to your doctor about whether you need to take iron pills or a multivitamin.
Can I get pregnant after a blighted ovum pregnancy?
Having a blighted ovum in pregnancy won’t affect your chances of conceiving and having a successful pregnancy in the future. In a study of women with early miscarriages, including blighted ovum, around 80% went on to give birth to a healthy baby within five years.
Will I have another blighted ovum pregnancy?
A blighted ovum is usually a one-time occurrence. However, in the rare case of repeated incidents of blighted ovum, your doctor may recommend testing to identify possible causes.
Unfortunately, in most cases, a blighted ovum cannot be prevented. In case of multiple early pregnancy losses, do talk to your doctor about possible genetic causes, and if any tests are required.
Most doctors recommend that couples wait at least 1-3 regular menstrual cycles before trying to conceive again after any type of miscarriage. So that your body has time to recuperate fully and is ready to support pregnancy.
During this time, focus on healthy lifestyle habits for your body and mental health, such as:
- Eating well
- Sleeping well and keeping stress at bay
- Taking a daily prenatal supplement that contains folate
How to show support to someone who had an anembryonic pregnancy miscarriage?
If you are a partner, a friend, or a family member of someone who had an anembryonic pregnancy miscarriage, you need to know that your support is highly important at this moment.
Offering your time and your ears may help them cope with a miscarriage a little easier.
According to Miscarriage Association Organization in the UK, you can show support by doing the following:
- Be honest and ask them to tell you what you can do to help
- It’s okay if you don’t know what to say. Just simply say you’re sorry for what happened and offer any possible help that they need.
- You might be able to show your support just by sitting and listening to them as they vent about how they feel. With their consent, give them your warm hug.
- If your friend who had a miscarriage is asking for a space and is not yet ready to face visitors, give them time and space. You may send them a card or text saying how you are available in case they need any help.
- Just in case the miscarriage is taking a toll on their mental health, you may help them make an appointment with a mental health professional. To avoid being overwhelmed, help them to decide what they want to say or offer to come with them to the appointments.
- If their behavior is upsetting and hurtful, remember that this is just a phase. Their emotions are way difficult to handle after the miscarriage. Give them time and be extra patient.
- Remind yourself that time, love, and understanding are what they need during this time. Avoid giving unsolicited advice. Also, refrain from trying to rationalize the miscarriage. It will do more harm than good. Avoid toxic positivity and let them grieve.
Additional information from by Jobelle Macayan
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