For many women, there’s a possibility that they might be pregnant with twins and not even know it. That’s because there’s a syndrome called Vanishing Twin that many women might not be aware of. It’s when a twin disappears from the uterus during the early stages of your pregnancy. What makes this even more strange is that the fetal issue is absorbed by the other twin in the uterus, the placenta, or even the pregnant mother.
And yes, you can absolutely lose a twin and still be pregnant. The disappearing embryo can be absorbed back into a pregnant woman’s body. While this is rare, many women have claimed that they’ve had a vanishing twin. In fact, one friend of mine was initially pregnant with three babies when she had her first ultrasound during her first trimester. When she went to her second ultrasound, she found that there were only two babies in her uterus. Some doctors even call this “the shooting stars of the womb” before the fetus disappears. As a matter of fact, it’s a case study that researchers are still trying to figure out.
With that being said, we have all the signs and symptoms of vanishing twin syndrome right here. Here’s what you need to know.
15 What Is It?
Because of modern technology, we can detect pregnancies during very early stages. As a matter of fact, early ultrasounds help identify just how many fetuses are in the womb during the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. In some cases, a doctor might identify more than one fetus during the sixth, seventh or eighth week of a woman’s pregnancy. But by the time the mother comes back for a follow up ultrasound, they might find that one of the fetuses have suddenly disappeared. This is what medical professionals call “vanishing twin syndrome.”
The exact cause of vanishing twin syndrome is still unknown. According to American Pregnancy, “Vanishing twin syndrome has been diagnosed more frequently since the use of ultrasonography in early pregnancy. Estimates indicate that vanishing twin syndrome occurs in 21-30% of multifetal pregnancies.”
14 The Causes
While no one really knows what causes vanishing twin syndrome, researchers first recognized it back in 1945. And there are reported cases of it every year. According to American Pregnancy, vanishing twin syndrome “occurs when a twin or multiple disappears in the uterus during pregnancy as a result of a miscarriage of one twin or multiple. The fetal tissue is absorbed by the other twin, multiple, placenta or the mother.”
There’s also the possibility that one fetus might hide in your womb. Your doctor might not be able to pinpoint it out until midway through your pregnancy. Although there’s a slim chance that this will happen, many women have reported “floating fetuses” in their wombs before. It’s almost as if they want to play a good (but stressful) game of hide and seek!
13 Bleeding For More Than One Day
One of the early signs that you may have had a vanishing twin is bleeding. After all, it’s the first sign many women notice after a miscarriage, and with vanishing twin syndrome, it’s no different. But some women will say that it is a little more mysterious, with many even calling it a “silent disappearance.”
But don’t confuse bleeding with your period. When a woman is pregnant, she misses her periods but with a miscarriage, the bleeding might continue for a few days. You might also notice a loss of tissue. Or in some cases, you might not notice any signs at all. If you feel like you might have miscarried a twin, definitely seek emergency care right away and follow up with your doctor for more information. Also, follow up during your next appointment.
12 Uterine Cramps
Another sign of vanishing twin syndrome is uterine cramps. It might feel like you are getting your period, or the moment when your uterus contracts with pain. And while uterine cramps are very common in both pregnancies and miscarriages, if you feel like you are dealing with an excessive amount of pain or if something is abnormal, you need to seek help immediately. Don’t ignore the signs and definitely don’t take any unnecessary chances.
You might also suffer from nausea or vomiting, just like with any other miscarriage. Or you might have no signs at all. As a matter of fact, a lot of first trimester symptoms might be very misleading. If you feel like something is not right or if you have excessive cramping, definitely call your doctor right away.
11 Pelvic Pain
One of the biggest signs that you have a vanishing twin is pelvic pain. But at the same time, many women suffer from excruciating back pain during their miscarriages as well. And it’s no different when you are suffering from vanishing twin syndrome. When you feel a dull, throbbing pain in either your pelvic region or your lower back and it just won’t go away, it’s a sign of trouble ahead.
Pain can come in any form, but if you are miscarrying, it will definitely feel stronger than your typical period cramps. If you feel like you can’t move or need assistance walking, tell someone right away as many miscarriages are serious and in need of urgent medical care. Don’t wait, especially when your health and your child’s health is on the line.
10 Compression Is Visibly Noticeable
Another sign of vanishing twin syndrome is when the compression in your baby bump is visibly noticeable. There’s a strong possibility that you may notice it at home or that someone in your family might notice that your bump looks different, or in some cases, smaller. Also keep in mind that it’s very rare for a pregnant women to fluctuate in her weight until after she’s given birth to her child.
If you feel that something might be wrong or that your fetus might be in danger, don’t hesitant to find help. Call your doctor if the compression in your pregnant belly is visibly noticeable. It might be a sign of a vanishing twin or it might be a sign of something else. If this happens, definitely seek urgent care immediately.
9 Risks For The Surviving Fetus
Yes, there is a possibility that the surviving fetus might have some long-term complications as a result of the other vanishing syndrome. Although it is rare, there have been some reported cases of the surviving twin suffering from side effects after the other fetus has either died or vanished inside the uterus. And while the prognosis of the surviving twin is usually very good, many researchers say it depends on what the factors were that contributed to the death of the other baby.
According to a study by American Pregnancy, “if the twin dies during the second of the third trimester, there are increased risks to the surviving fetus, including a higher rate of cerebral palsy.” And while studies are still ongoing, many researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact cause.
8 Fetus Compressus
While many vanishing twins tend to disappear during the first trimester or the very early stages of a woman’s pregnancy, there are cases in which a mother might give birth to her dead fetus. And when this happens, doctors are forced to identify the remains of the fetus especially if the twin dies after the embryonic period.
But there are cases in which the deceased twin is identified at birth. Usually, the amniotic fluid and the placental tissue may be reabsorbed by the surviving twin. In some cases, the deceased twin may be flattened by the pressure from the surviving twin. At delivery, many doctors identify the deceased twin as “compressus (compressed enough to be noticed) or as fetus papyraceous.” This happens when there is a loss of fluid or a loss of soft tissue.
7 Looking For An Explanation
We already know that researchers in the medical field are still trying to find answers behind the vanishing twin phenomenon. It’s been such a mystery for so long, yet doctors don’t have any clear answers as to why it happens or how it can be prevents for that matter. But there are statistics available that might help doctors find the causes and the answers that they are looking for.
Of course, if you find that you are pregnant with multiples, there’s more of a chance of you developing vanishing twin syndrome. According to VeryWell.com, “In multiple pregnancies that have continued beyond 20 weeks, researchers estimate that about 2.6 percent of twin gestations and 4.3 percent of triplet gestations will be affected by fetal death, although these are generally not considered vanishing twin pregnancies.”
6 Risks For The Mother
Yes, there are also several risks that might develop for the mother as well after a twin mysteriously disappears. Sure, there’s a chance that you might have the same signs and symptoms of a miscarriage, but there are other, more serious risks to consider, too. That’s why many women who have had vanishing twin syndrome are closely monitored, as doctors are still trying to find answers behind the cause.
According to E Medicine, “The timing of this event significantly affects the outcome of the viable twin and the maternal complications. For example, if the event occurs during the second half of pregnancy, the fetus could develop cerebral palsy or cutis aplasia, and the mother could develop preterm labor, infection, puerperal hemorrhage, consumptive coagulopathy, or obstruction of labor.” If you have any additional questions, definitely talk to your doctor.
5 Chromosomal Defects
Yes, your genes might also play a huge part in one of your fetuses vanishing or miscarrying in the womb. There’s a strong possibility that the fetus might have had some unknown chromosomal defects before it disappeared, so to speak. In comparison, the surviving fetus usually doesn’t show any signs of chromosomal defects, although each case is different. The difficultly behind this is that some people might never know if their fetus had any major genetic abnormalities at all, especially after it vanished. There’s just no way for doctors to detect anything without the proof they need. It’s a phenomenon that researchers are still trying to figure out.
According to research by American Pregnancy, “Analysis of the placenta and/or fetal tissue frequently reveals chromosomal abnormalities in the vanishing twin, while the surviving twin is usually healthy.”
4 Mom’s Intuition
A lot of people will agree that there’s no greater intuition in this world than a mother’s intuition. We don’t need doctors, nurses or medical professionals to tell us what’s going on inside our bodies. As mothers, we just know. Sometimes you might just know that something is off with your body or your pregnancy. It’s a sign, it’s a symptom, or it can just be a feeling.
If you feel like you might have miscarried a baby, definitely seek medical assistance as fast as possible. If you are carrying twins or multiples, you want to make sure that your other fetuses are still safe and healthy. Get as much support, guidance and information as you need to help you through your journey. It doesn’t matter if you are pregnant with just one child or several: losing a baby during your pregnancy is devastating for everyone.
3 Emotional Scars
It’s without a doubt that if you’ve suffered from vanishing twin syndrome, there will be emotional scars left over. You might find yourself thinking often about your baby. And if you end up giving birth to multiplies, you might have a lot of “what if” scenarios running through your head. This is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
With that being said, if you feel hurt, depressed, or just sad about losing a baby, definitely talk to the people you trust most – your close friends and family members. The best you can do is communicate your feelings and seek comfort and guidance from your loved ones. It won’t be easy, but having the right kind of support around you might help you get through this difficult time in your life.
2 Can It Be Prevented?
As we’ve mentioned above, medical researchers are still trying to find the cause of vanishing twin syndrome. Because cases are very rare, it’s hard to professionals in the medical field to examine case studies when it happens. But just with any other pregnancy, the right kind of care is important for prevention.
Don’t feel like you are being selfish during your pregnancy. Remember, you are taking care of another life inside you. The best thing you can do is take care of yourself by eating right, doing moderate exercise, and relaxing as often as you can. Try not to stress or take on any unnecessary work. Treat your pregnancy like the most important thing in the world. After all, your baby is inside you for nine long months. It takes some getting used to, but remember that your baby is also a part of you.
1 What You Can Do
If you feel like you’ve had a vanishing twin, definitely tell your doctor. You won’t be doing yourself any good if you hide this information from your team of medical professionals that are supposed to help guide you during your pregnancy.
Remember, every pregnancy is truly a blessing. A lot of parents will agree with that. Also, every mother who carries a child and gives birth is truly a warrior. Don’t give up and definitely don’t blame yourself if you’ve miscarried a twin. There are ways that you can get through this difficult moment in your life. Be strong, take care of your body, and definitely make the right choices when it comes to your pregnancy. With the right mind, the right people and the right support, you can get through this.
Sources: americanpregnancy.com, verywell.com, mayoclinic.com, webmd.com, emedicine.com