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Blighted Ovum: Care Instructions


A blighted ovum occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the inside of the uterus but does not develop into a fetus. It is also known as an anembryonic pregnancy. It is usually caused by a problem with the egg or sperm or the combination of both. Stress, exercise, or sex does not cause this problem. There is nothing you could have done to prevent it.

You are likely to miscarry—pass the ovum tissue—by the end of your first trimester. Medicine may be used to help the tissue pass. Or a procedure may be used to remove the tissue.

Your body will recover over the next several weeks. Having a miscarriage does not mean that you cannot have a normal pregnancy in the future. If you have had multiple miscarriages in a row, your doctor or midwife may suggest testing to check for possible causes.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • You will probably have vaginal bleeding, similar to a period, for 1 to 2 weeks. Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding. Using pads makes it easier to monitor your bleeding.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve) for cramps. Read and follow all instructions on the label. You may have cramps for several days after the miscarriage.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor or midwife told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Ask your doctor or midwife when it is okay for you to have sex.
  • You may return to your normal activities if you feel well enough to do so.
  • If you would like to try to get pregnant again, it is usually safe whenever you feel ready. Talk with your doctor or midwife about any future pregnancy plans.
  • If you do not want to get pregnant, ask your doctor or midwife about birth control. You can get pregnant again before your next period starts if you are not using birth control.
  • You may be low in iron because of blood loss. Eat a balanced diet that is high in iron and vitamin C. Foods rich in iron include red meat, shellfish, eggs, beans, and leafy green vegetables. Talk to your doctor or midwife about whether you need to take iron pills or a multivitamin.
  • For some, the loss of a pregnancy can be hard. If you are having trouble coping, talking to family members, friends, a counsellor, or your doctor or midwife may help.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe vaginal bleeding.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse pain in your belly or pelvis.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have vaginal discharge that smells bad.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor, midwife, or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.