Clinical Pregnancy

Last Updated: February 25, 2020

Definition - What does Clinical Pregnancy mean?

A clinical pregnancy is a pregnancy that has been confirmed by both high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone and ultrasound visualization of the gestational sac. If a pregnancy ends before it is confirmed by ultrasound, it is known as a chemical pregnancy rather than a clinical pregnancy.

FertilitySmarts explains Clinical Pregnancy

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone released by the placenta during pregnancy and detected in the blood or urine in pregnancy tests. A positive pregnancy test indicates that hCG is present in a woman's body. Once this has been confirmed, the pregnancy is known as a chemical pregnancy because it has only been confirmed by the presence of the biochemical, hCG. If for some reason, the pregnancy were to fail to progress at this point, the woman would be said to have been chemically pregnant.

In order to be considered a clinical pregnancy, there must be clinical signs of pregnancy in addition to the detection of hCG in the woman's body. The most commonly used clinical sign of pregnancy is ultrasound visualization of the gestational sac. The gestational sac is the start of what will later become the amniotic sac. The developing embryo lays inside the gestational sac, but it is difficult to see the embryo on an ultrasound because of its small size.

Visualization of the fetal heartbeat can also be used to confirm a clinical pregnancy, but this doesn't appear on an ultrasound until later in pregnancy. For this reason, detection of the fetal heartbeat is less frequently used to confirm clinical pregnancy than the visualization of the gestational sac.

When both hCG in the body and clinical signs of pregnancy are confirmed, the woman is said to be clinically pregnant.

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