Saturday, June 27, 2009

Recurring Blighted Ovums after Healthy Pregnancies

Questioner: Tiffany
Subject: Recurring Blighted Ovums after Healthy Pregnancies
Hello Dr.

My name is Tiffany and my husband and I have had three healthy babies. I don't have any problems getting pregnant, however after my last child was born in Nov. 06, I had to have my gallbladder removed in 07. In 2008 and now again in 2009 I had two blighted ovums back to back and neither of them miscarried on their own. I have a few questions: first of all, can gallbladder surgery do something to your body to cause blighted ovums? Usually multiple recurrent miscarriages occur in people that have not had healthy babies before. What can cause a couple who have had no fertility problems in the past to all of a sudden have blighted ovums? Will I be able to have another baby again? What tests do you recommend to find out the cause of these consecutive blighted ovums?

Thank you,


Let me answer your questions in sequence:

1. No gallbladder surgery does nothing to your fertility or chances of pregnancy.
2. Blighted ovums are due to an abnormality with the pregnancy. Usually it is because there is a major genetic abnormality caused by the development of the fetus. Therefore, the fetus does not develop. Because the placenta develops and the gestational sac, the body does not recognize that the pregnancy is abnormal (i.e. doesn't have a fetus) and so does not terminate the pregnancy. For that reason natural miscarriage does not occur. Miscarriages occur in up to 40% of pregnancies, regardless of whether or not you have been pregnant before. That is the risk with each pregnancy.
3. 85% of women that have recurrent miscarriages will eventually have a successful pregnancy, so you don't need to worry.
4. I would recommend that you and your husband have genetic/ chromosomal testing done to make sure you are not carrying something that is passing to the fetus. It is a simple blood test. That is the only testing I would recommend at this time.


Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program

Monterey, California, U.S.A.

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