What is a spoiled egg?
A blighted ovum occurs when a fertilized ovum attaches to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. The cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo itself.
In normal cases, when a woman becomes pregnant, the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. At around five or six weeks of pregnancy, an embryo should be present, along with the gestational sac.
However, with a spoiled egg, the pregnancy sac forms and grows, but the embryo does not develop. That is why a spoiled ovum is also called an anembryonic pregnancy.
A spoiled ovum occurs early, within the first trimester, even before a woman realizes she is pregnant. She will cause a miscarriage usually between seven and 12 weeks of pregnancy. The body realizes that the pregnancy is not developing properly and begins to shed blood and tissue from the uterus.
Pregnancy hormones are still produced in case of a spoiled ovum, so it may show up as a positive pregnancy test early on.
Causes of anembryonic pregnancy
In a normal pregnancy, the egg begins to divide within a few hours of being fertilized.
About 10 days later, the cells will have formed an embryo, which will implant in the uterus. Then the placenta begins to develop and hormone levels begin to rise.
With a failed egg, the cells never divide to the point of forming an embryo, or the embryo stops growing shortly after implanting in the uterus.
Studies have revealed that an anembryonic pregnancy usually occurs due to abnormal chromosomes in the fetus. This can be caused by abnormal cell division or poor sperm or egg quality. 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 that you could not have done anything to prevent it from happening. For most women, a spoiled egg happens only once. If you have repeat pregnancies from spoiled eggs, talk to your doctor about chromosome analysis of your embryos.
Symptoms of the ruined ovum
In many cases, a spoiled egg can occur very early in the pregnancy before most women know they are pregnant.
A spoiled egg can have the same early symptoms associated with pregnancy, such as:
- A positive pregnancy test
- breast tenderness
- nausea and vomiting
- a lost period
- An ultrasound showed an amniotic sac but no embryos.
As the pregnancy ends, symptoms may include miscarriage. These may include:
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding
- abdominal cramp
- Disappearance of chest pain
- A period that is heavier than usual.
- Blood clots or grayish tissue coming out of the vagina
Anembryonic pregnancy: diagnosis and treatment
A spoiled ovum is usually detected on the first ultrasound done during a prenatal appointment. Sometimes there may be bleeding in early pregnancy and ultrasound is used to investigate.
It will show the placenta and the empty embryo sac. In some cases, a transvaginal ultrasound, in which a wand is inserted directly into the vagina, may be used to confirm a shriveled ovum if the results of a standard abdominal ultrasound are inconclusive.
In the event of a blighted ovum, your doctor may suggest these treatment options:
- Waiting for miscarriage symptoms to occur naturally
- Taking medication to cause a miscarriage
- Undergo a surgical D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure to remove the placental tissues from the uterus
Your doctor will discuss the options with you. You’ll want to discuss the standard side effects and risks associated with any type of medication or surgical procedure, including dilation and curettage.
You can choose to allow a natural miscarriage to occur. Once this starts, it can take days or weeks for the bleeding to stop. If the bleeding is getting heavier, if you have pain, or if you don’t feel well, see your doctor.
Your doctor should also monitor the process to make sure that all of the tissue from the uterus has been properly expelled. If tissue remains in the uterus after the miscarriage, a D&C may still be required. If the tissue is not removed, infection can occur and lead to a potentially serious complication called septic miscarriage.
A D&C will also be helpful if you want a pathologist to examine the tissues to confirm the reason for the miscarriage.
Risk factors for having a ruined egg
Experts estimate that a third of early pregnancy losses, those before eight weeks of gestation, are due to damaged eggs.
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
- Of smoking
- alcohol or drug abuse
- Diabetes and thyroid diseases
- Exposure to toxins (for example, pesticides) and ionizing radiation
How to deal with a ruined egg
Losing a pregnancy can be very hard. It’s natural to feel upset, sad, or even guilty. In the case of a shriveled egg, remember that it wasn’t your fault and there was no way you could have prevented it.
Talking with family, friends, a counselor, or your doctor can help you cope with your loss.
Here are some things to keep in mind after a ruined ovum:
- You will probably have vaginal bleeding, similar to a heavy period, for up to a week. Use sanitary pads instead of tampons. You can use tampons during your next period, which should start in three to six weeks.
- You may have cramps for several days after the miscarriage. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help. Tell your doctor if you experience any severe pain.
- Check your temperature at night for the next five days after the miscarriage. Call your doctor if you have a temperature above 100°F (37.7 degrees Celsius).
- Your doctor may want you to collect tissue that you could expel. Use a clear container for it and take it to your doctor as soon as you can.
- Avoid having sex until the bleeding stops.
- It is also recommended that you avoid strenuous exercise until the bleeding stops.
- If you plan to become pregnant again, consult your gynecologist. Most doctors suggest waiting until you’ve had at least one normal period before trying to get pregnant again. If you don’t want to get pregnant, ask your doctor about birth control.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in iron and vitamin C. You may be low in iron due to blood loss. Talk to your doctor about whether you need to take iron pills or a multivitamin.
Can I get pregnant again after an embryonic pregnancy?
Having a damaged egg during pregnancy will not affect your chances of conceiving and having a successful pregnancy in the future. in a study of women with early miscarriagesincluding spoiled eggs, about 80 percent gave birth to a healthy baby within five years.
Will I have another pregnancy with spoiled eggs?
A spoiled egg usually happens only once. However, in the rare case of repeated incidents of spoiled eggs, your doctor may recommend tests to identify possible causes.
Can it be prevented?
Unfortunately, in most cases, an embryonic pregnancy cannot be prevented. In the case of multiple early pregnancy losses, talk to your doctor about possible genetic causes and whether testing is required.
Most doctors recommend that couples wait at least one to three regular menstrual cycles before trying to conceive again after any type of miscarriage so that your body has time to fully recover and be ready to support the pregnancy.
During this time, focus on healthy lifestyle habits for your body and mental health, such as:
- Eating good
- Sleep well and keep stress at bay
- working out
- Take a daily prenatal supplement that contains folate
If you are experiencing any symptoms of pregnancy or have any concerns about your reproductive health, don’t hesitate to see a gynecologist.