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When a Blighted Ovum Is Not a Blighted Ovum

Updated on January 11, 2017
Cari Kay 11 profile image

My name is Kay. As a result of my two misdiagnosed miscarriages, I was inspired to share my story and what I've learned with others.

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My beautiful, not-so-blighted ovum
My beautiful, not-so-blighted ovum | Source

My Misdiagnosed Blighted Ovum

Hi. My name is Kay, and I am the mother of a beautiful, not-so-blighted ovum. Yes, I had a misdiagnosed miscarriage.

With my last pregnancy, I was told at my 5-1/2- and 6-week ultrasounds that I most likely had a blighted ovum. After my 7- and 8-week ultrasounds, my doctor strongly recommended a D&C due to an empty gestational sac, which meant there was no hope for a viable pregnancy.

Thankfully, I refused the procedure. I say thankfully—because at nearly 9 weeks, we saw my baby for the first time on the ultrasound, beating heart and all!

In this article, I hope to provide you with more information so you can determine if your "blighted ovum" is, in fact, actually blighted—or if you may have received a misdiagnosis.

I believe every woman deserves to have no doubt before having her pregnancy ended.

I also believe a blighted ovum should not be diagnosed before nine weeks.

Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all... As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.

— G. K. Chesterton

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My Misdiagnosed Blighted Ovum Story

I've been sharing my story for several years online. If you're researching blighted ovum information, you may have already come across my story. For those who have not, let me tell you the tale of my own little misdiagnosed blighted ovum.

Hey, I'm Pregnant!

Back in September 2002, I found out I was pregnant. Because there was only one possible date of conception, I knew exactly how far along I was. At 5-1/2 weeks, my ob-gyn wanted to do an ultrasound because I had been high risk during my first pregnancy. Well, the tech kept looking and looking, commenting on my tilted uterus several times, but she could only find the sac. The sac looked much smaller than it should have by that point.

I was not concerned because that happened during my first pregnancy, as well—and that doctor had not been concerned. Well, apparently, this doctor was concerned, because when he came in he started discussing the possibility of a blighted ovum. He said I needed to come back in a few days when I was 6 weeks to check again. He said we'd know more then.

In the meantime, they took my hCG levels, and the nurse called me later to tell me they should be higher. This didn't sound very good, but I was not panicked yet. I must admit that I was a bit worried, though.

6-Week Exam

At my 6-week exam, my doctor did not sound optimistic about my hCG levels, even though I had looked online and learned that they fell within the normal range. He came in for the ultrasound. Again, he had to contort a bit for the trans-vaginal ultrasound because of my tilted uterus.

The sac was growing appropriately—but no baby. My doctor believed this was a blighted ovum. He explained that hCG levels can and will rise with a blighted ovum, and that the gestational sac will grow, as well. He again raised the possibility of my not being as far along as I thought, but I reminded him that was impossible. My husband and I were in different states the day after I conceived (thanks to Uncle Sam).

The doctor said he was concerned because the sac looked a week and a half behind. I told him that the same thing had happened during my first pregnancy; i.e., I had looked two weeks behind during the first trimester. I also emphasized that my first doctor had not been concerned at all. This doctor, however, was very worried. And because I was pregnant and hormonal, I began to get very worried, as well.

I spent the next week scouring the web looking for anyone who had experienced the same thing. The women I found online were very kind but didn't give me much hope. I had already begun to experience pregnancy symptoms, but they were beginning to fade. Even my tummy, which had seemed a little harder, suddenly seemed soft again.

7-Week Exam

At my 7-week appointment, long story short, my hCG levels had risen and the gestational sac had also grown appropriately. However, I still looked a week and a half behind. Again, I explained to the doctor that I knew the conception date with certainty.

Again, there was no baby and no heartbeat. Not even a yolk sac to give us hope.

Because my hCG levels were much higher at this point, in the tens of thousands, a baby should have been visible according to the ultrasound literature. According to the same literature, my gestational sac was large enough that a baby, or at the very least, a yolk sac should have been visible. When I told my doctor about my loss of pregnancy symptoms, that seemed to cinch it for him. He diagnosed a blighted ovum and strongly recommended a D&C.

I have a fear of D&Cs, and maybe this fear is a good thing because I just absolutely refused. I begged for any sort of hope, and he very skeptically but kindly gave me a 95% chance of miscarriage at this point. I grabbed onto that 5% chance. By this time, I was an emotional wreck.

During the next week, I continued to rip apart the web looking for hopeful stories. Women on the pregnancy and miscarriage sites I visited very kindly told me I needed to accept my loss and should have the D&C in order to move on and heal.

I suspect that if I hadn't had such a fear of D&Cs (due largely to two women I know who had serious complications from the procedure), I would have considered it. I was an absolute wreck. I spent much of that week in tears.

8-Week Exam

By week 8, my physician was pretty much just monitoring me to see if I was about to miscarry. Again, the ultrasound showed a larger gestational sac that was growing appropriately, but it was still small for 8 weeks. And still no baby.

The tech did say she thought she saw something unusual in the sac, but after searching and searching, she could not find what she thought she'd seen. My doctor again tried to convince me to have a D&C due to the risk of infection and all sorts of complications—but I couldn't do it. At this point, I was so upset I was beginning to feel numb.

By this time, I'd found two women online who were kind enough to email me. They encouraged me not to give up entirely. If I was going to miscarry, so be it—but I could deal with that grief when it happened. For the time being, they told me to hold on to faith and hope. Because of these women, I began reaching out to other women later, but that is another story for another time.

Ultrasound Just Before 9 Weeks

At almost 9 weeks, my doctor was stunned when the tech found my baby with a very strong heartbeat. We'd completely skipped over the yolk sac and fetal pole and went straight to a wonderfully formed, if not small looking, one-and-a-half-weeks-behind baby!

To say my doctor was stunned was an understatement. He began to say again that I must have conceived later, but when I reminded him (again!) about how I knew the exact date of conception, he said that maybe the sperm were just really slow. He did not even want to consider that according to his dating, I had turned up positive on an HPT a day or so after conception. Now, you know that is impossible. I know that is impossible, but try telling that to the doctor who uses the ultrasound literature as his guide. By those guidelines, my baby is officially a "blighted ovum" baby.

I'll leave my story at that for now. I will just say that I had one more ultrasound somewhere around 20 weeks, and my dates were more accurate by that point. Interesting to note that the tilted uterus was no longer an issue either, but I'll discuss that in more detail later.

Today my "blighted ovum" is a happy, healthy four-year-old girl. She's bright and feisty and loves life. Thankfully, a D&C did not change that.

Thank you for reading. No matter what, if you are going through this same scare, I hope you can find some comfort in knowing you are not alone.

If a physician wanted you to have a D&C and you had no miscarriage symptoms, would you consider getting a second opinion?

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Have You Been Misdiagnosed?

Misdiagnosed miscarriages are not as uncommon as you might be led to believe. It is not unusual for me to receive several emails each week from women who are misdiagnosed. Often, they had been told by their doctor there was no hope, and they had been advised to have a D&C. Each and every misdiagnosed story provides comfort to women who are going through their own miscarriage scare. Please consider taking the time to share your story in the comments section below.

If you have been diagnosed with a blighted ovum before 9 weeks (even if you've had IVF), you are being diagnosed too soon!

Important New Guidelines for Diagnosing a Miscarriage

The UK is the first country to acknowledge that misdiagnosed miscarriages are indeed a problem. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has revised its guidelines. If your gestational sac is more than 25mm, and/or the CRL is 7mm or more, you should wait a week to verify (if there are no complications). If the measurements are less, you are too early to diagnose. For more information (and something to take to your doctor), please see my article: New Blighted Ovum Guidelines! You ARE Being Diagnosed Too Soon!

This information is meant to supplement the information given you by your doctor. If you feel your doctor is not doing enough for you or not willing to listen to your concerns, I strongly encourage you to take what you've learned here and get a second opinion.

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      Isabela 2 weeks ago

      Hi there. My name is Bella, and i am going through such a tough time right now.I went through Ivf , icsi, and on the 25 Dec i got a positive pregnancy test. Was over the moon. To cut the story short, when for a scan at 6 weeks and was found an empty sac measuring one week behind. One week later went for another scan, when i was diagnosed with a blighted ovum. Then one week later , went for a final scan to confirm. Then what happened is over the imaginable. First tech said:''oh there is your embryo'. I was shocked!!!Couldn't believe this! This was a miracle for me. Then she said but i can't find a heart beat. Let me call someone for a second opinion. Then a man entered, and did the scan and said:''Oh there is not embryo in here''. Did not insist to much, as the previous tech did. I said:''but before i saw , we saw the baby''. He said:''oh no that is just a shadow. Now , i didn't know you can see shadows in the belly. Anyway, they have told me to wait in the waiting area to go through my options, such as d&c or pill, or natural miscarriage .Now, my gut feeling was telling me to run.So i did. I walked outside the door thinking this doesn't feel right. My gut feeling was telling me that , there is a baby inside me. My symptoms are of a pregnant lady, all of them! The sac is growing...and looks very well implanted , with a very nice looking shape. So my decision is, of waiting. No matter what happens, i will live it into the hands of God. With Him all things are possible.

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      Jessica 2 weeks ago

      Hi Kay

      This is such encouragement. I feel like I have mourned this already twice with my ultrasounds showing an empty sack both times and getting more info pointing to a blighted ovum. My hcg levels have been monitored for 3 weeks sometimes they double sometimes the increase a little. I have had 3 ultrasounds. The first one showed nothing just liquid in the uterus the second one showed an empty gestational

      Sack and the 3rd a week later (I am supposedly 8 weeks) still showed an empty sack that had grown since the last time but there is still no yolk sack or fetal pole. My midwife said I could schedule a D&C but there was no rush. She agreed to let me get another ultrasound in a week and a half or two weeks if I want and is continuing to look at my hcg levels to look for a drop

      Or decline. She was pretty sure it's not a viable pregnancy. I keep hoping and praying for a different outcome but just get heartbroken with each ultrasound. I don't think I am measuring 25 mm and I am not 9 weeks yet so waiting at least another week or 2 for another u/s sounds like the right thing to do.

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      viki 5 months ago

      thanks so much for this encouraging article. by my last period im supposed to be 10wks gone in my pregnancy but the scan showed my pregnancy at 7wks and an empty sac. the doctors impression was that it may b a case of blighted ovum but i should come back after 2wks. ive been reading about this issue and this seems to b d only article that has really given me hope that my baby may be alright. im holding on to faith and will not do a d&c even if God forbid d next scan still shows no baby. thanks again.

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      Anonymous 7 months ago

      My last cycle was on April 30, 2016. I am usually very regular in cycle. We discovered on May 29th that I was pregnant. I have experienced significant fatigue, bloating, and breast tenderness. I had my first ultrasound 2 weeks ago (should have been 7 weeks along), where they found a yolk sac but no fetal pole. They also estimated that my gestational age was 6 weeks and 2 days. At that time, my hcG levels were normal. I had my second ultrasound today (should have been 9 weeks, 5 days). They found similar results, with a larger gestational sac, but only measuring 6 weeks, 5 days. My doctor recommended a D and C. When I asked about her level of certainty, she noted that "in my mind, there is 100% chance that it will not be successful." Do you think there's any hope of a successful pregnancy? Thank you for your time.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
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      Kay 10 months ago

      Do you have an update?

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