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Positive pregnancy test with scan showing empty womb

Read our guide below to help you understand why your positive pregnancy test shows an empty womb.

You can also download a PDF version of this patient information by following the link on the right.

Why did my scan show an empty womb?

In early pregnancy, some women mighthave bleeding. A scan may not show exactly what’s happening because:

  • it’s too early to see the pregnancy
  • the pregnancy isn’t growing as it shouldwhich may be the reason why you started bleeding and could go on to miscarry
  • there’s a possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the womb) which happens in approximately 10 to 15 women out of 100 in these circumstances.

How can I find out what’s happening with my pregnancy?

We need to check the pregnancy hormone level beta-human chorionic gonadotrophin (BhCG) and the progesterone level in your blood. BhCG levels roughly double every 2 days in a normally growing early pregnancy.

Depending on the results, we might repeat the BhCG blood tests after 48 hours or 1 week.

We may need to do another ultrasound scan in a few days.

Possible outcomes

In 3 out of 10 patients, we diagnose a healthy pregnancy by ultrasound.

In 5 to 7 out of 10 women the cause of an empty uterus may be an early miscarriage. The pregnancy hormone will become negative in 2 to 3 weeks time.

In 1 out of 10 patients we find an ectopic pregnancy where the pregnancy is outside the womb. It may be in the fallopian tube.

What are the symptoms I need to look out for?

Bleeding can be very common as long as it’s not too heavy, for example heavier than a period.  You can stay at home.

If you develop any type of abdominal pain or have increasing possibly cramp discomfort, you can take paracetamol tablets.

Call the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) (see contact details below) or go straight to Accident and Emergency if:

  • the pain feels sharp and specific to one side
  • you have pain in the tip of your shoulder
  • you feel faint
  • the vaginal bleeding gets worse.

If you have other side-effects and want to ask anything else related to your treatment, call the EPU clinic or the Surgical Assessment Unit.

Help and support

Contact the Miscarriage Association

How can I help reduce healthcare associated infections?

Infection prevention and control is important to the wellbeing of our patients so we have procedures in place. Keeping your hands clean is an effective way of preventing the spread of infections.

You, and anyone visiting you, must use the hand sanitiser available at the entrance to every ward before coming in and after you leave. You may need to wash your hands at the sink using soap and water. Hand sanitisers are not suitable for dealing with patients who have symptoms of diarrhoea.

About our patient information

This is intended as general information only. We aim to make the information as up to date and accurate as possible, but it’s subject to change.

Always check specific advice on any concerns you may have with your doctor.

Contact us

Early Pregnancy Unit, Stoke Mandeville Hospital
Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU)
Ward 15 (out of hours)
Early Pregnancy Unit, Stoke Mandeville Hospital

01296 316469

Voicemail service – please leave a message.

Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU)

01296 316500

Ward 15 (out of hours)

01296 416500