Anembryonic Pregnancy: What is it, Symptoms and Causes

Pregnancy without the embryo developing

An empty pregnancy or anembryonic pregnancy happens when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, however, it never becomes an embryo. It is one of the possible causes of pregnancy loss, and while many women are not even aware that they have had a miscarriage, others feel all the symptoms of pregnancy. We explain why it occurs and what are the symptoms of a anembryonic pregnancy.

What is a Blighted ovum

Blighted ovum or anembryonic pregnancy is one of the causes of miscarriage. It usually happens in the first few weeks of pregnancy, sometimes so early that many women do not realize they are pregnant.

Once fertilized, the egg (now called the zygote) must advance to the uterus and attach itself to the uterine wall, where it will begin its nine-month growth process. If something goes wrong in this whole process, pregnancy will not occur.

Between five and six weeks of pregnancy, there should be an embryo. In addition, at this stage the gestational sac develops, which is where the embryo will grow. However, on occasions, an anembryonic pregnancy occurs, that is, the embryo never develops despite the fact that the egg was fertilized. At this point what happens is that the embryo sac forms, grows and different symptoms related to pregnancy occur, but it is empty, there is no embryo.

Why Anembryonic Pregnancy occurs

An empty pregnancy, that is, in which there is no embryo, can occur for several reasons:

  • Problems related to the chromosomes, which are the structures that carry genes.
  • Sometimes the sperm or ovum are of poor quality and, despite fertilization, they cannot continue.
  • An abnormal cell division may occur after fertilization.

In general, the causes of an anembryonic pregnancy are circumstantial and the woman does not depend in any case, that is, if it has happened to you, you should know that you have not done anything to cause a miscarriage to happen, you could not have prevented it.

However, this type of pregnancy usually only happens once, unlike miscarriages due to other causes that have a higher recurrence rate.

Symptoms of Anembryonic Pregnancy

A anembryonic pregnancy can lead to common pregnancy symptoms. And it is that, when an anembryonic pregnancy occurs, there has been a lack in the period since the ovum was actually fertilized, although the embryo did not grow. In fact, it is normal to take a pregnancy test and it will come back positive. And, the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin ( hCG ), a hormone only present in pregnancy, can increase. The placenta produces this hormone after implantation. With a anembryonic pregnancy, hCG can continue to rise because the placenta can grow for a short period of time, even when there is no embryo.

However, because the baby has not prospered, the pregnancy cannot continue, the sac is empty, at this point, the symptoms you may notice are:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps.
  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding.

Many women, in fact, do not notice that they have had a anembryonic pregnancy since it can be noticed as a more abundant period than normal.

In any case, when in doubt, consult your doctor, since not all bleeding in the first weeks of pregnancy ends in spontaneous abortion, and it is normal to stain a little at the moment in which the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall.

How to know if I have had a Anembryonic Pregnancy

Before the suspicion, go to your obstetrician who will evaluate you to know if you have indeed had an anembryonic pregnancy. An ultrasound is the test that diagnoses that there is no embryo and that the yolk sac is empty.

What if I have had an Anembryonic Pregnancy

Although the pregnancy has failed and a miscarriage has occurred, a curettage must be performed to remove the contents of the uterus. It is a surgical procedure that involves dilation of the cervix to remove the yolk sac.

Sometimes obstetricians also recommend that a woman take a medicine that can help expel the tissue from the uterus. It is a slower process, which can lead to more bleeding and some side effects.

In both surgical and drug treatment, you may experience abdominal cramps and discomfort.

After a miscarriage, your doctor may recommend that you wait at least one to three menstrual cycles before trying to get pregnant again.

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