Chemical Pregnancy

Last Updated: January 10, 2020

Definition - What does Chemical Pregnancy mean?

A chemical pregnancy is a very early miscarriage that occurs after a woman has tested positive for pregnancy, but before it can be verified on an ultrasound examination.

The chemical reaction that occurred when a pregnancy test turned positive is typically the only evidence a pregnancy took place. In contrast, a clinical pregnancy occurs when a gestational sac can be seen on an ultrasound.

A chemical pregnancy may also be known as a biochemical pregnancy.

FertilitySmarts explains Chemical Pregnancy

When an embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus and releases human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), it is possible to test positive on a pregnancy test. In the case of a chemical pregnancy, shortly after a positive test, the pregnancy fails to progress further.

Symptoms of a chemical pregnancy

A chemical pregnancy is most likely to occur around the 4th to 5th week of pregnancy and can often occur undetected. Because of this timing, a chemical pregnancy may appear simply as a late period, potentially with extra cramping.

How is a it diagnosed?

Experiencing bleeding shortly after a positive pregnancy test or a blood test that shows a decreasing level of hCG hormones may indicate a chemical pregnancy.

In fact, without ultrasensitive pregnancy tests that allow for a pregnancy result 3-4 days before an expected period, many chemical pregnancies would likely go undetected.

What is the cause of chemical pregnancy?

As with most miscarriages, it is believed that chromosomal issues are likely why a chemical pregnancy may occur.

Treatment options

Because of how early a chemical pregnancy is experienced, they typically resolve on their own.

Though brief, a chemical pregnancy is a form of miscarriage and there is no right response or way to feel.

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