A chemical pregnancy is a term used for very early miscarriage and occurs before the fifth week of pregnancy and before the fetus can be detected on ultrasound. A week after a positive pregnancy test, menstruation is scary and confusing, but it is common.
Chemical pregnancies may account for 50 to 75 percent of all miscarriages. Many women with a chemical pregnancy do not even realize they are pregnant because the only sign is a delayed period.
What is a chemical pregnancy?
It is also called biochemical pregnancy, which is pregnancy loss very early, usually occurring just after implantation. In this case, you only have a positive pregnancy test and no other symptoms of pregnancy. Some women may not even realize they have experienced it because they have not been tested.
In recent years, pregnancy tests have become much more sensitive, and pregnancy hormones can be detected up to 3 days before menstruation so that pregnancy can be detected. The name “chemical pregnancy” means you tested positive for chemicals used to diagnose pregnancy. It differs from “clinical pregnancy,” meaning the doctor can see your growing baby on an ultrasound.
More than half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most of these cases are chemical pregnancies. But it is difficult to know the exact number of chemical pregnancies in women. Many of these pregnancies end before showing symptoms or delay in menstruation.
Causes and risk factors
Doctors do not know what causes a chemical pregnancy. Most chemical pregnancies are believed to occur because a fertilized egg has a chromosomal abnormality that does not keep it alive from the beginning.
When the body recognizes this, it terminates the pregnancy soon after the egg is implanted. The uterus’ lining may also be too thin to implant the fetus, or there may be a DNA problem in the sperm. Pregnancy loss usually occurs about a week after a regular period. Risk factors that increase the chance of a chemical pregnancy include:
- Maternal age: Women 35 and older are more likely to have a this type of pregnancy
- Insufficient hormone levels: The body needs higher levels of certain hormones, such as progesterone, to support fetal growth. The deficiency of these hormones can lead to miscarriage.
- Low body mass index (BMI): Underweight Women, according to the BMI index, are more likely to have a miscarriage.
- Uterine abnormalities: The presence of uterine fibroids or irregularities in the uterus lining can prevent the implantation of the fetus in the uterus.
Signs and symptoms
The most obvious sign of a chemical pregnancy is a positive pregnancy test followed by a negative one. It does not always have specific symptoms; they may include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Mild spotting a week before except your period
- Clots in period blood
- Low HCG levels
A doctor can confirm a chemical pregnancy with a urine or blood test. These tests measure the amount of hCG, a hormone the body produces during pregnancy. Low hCG levels are a sign of a chemical pregnancy.
In vitro fertilization and chemical pregnancy
One of the cases that chemical pregnancy occurs is after in vitro fertilization (IVF). The egg is removed from the ovaries and mixed with sperm. The fetus is transferred to the uterus after fertilization. If you are not fertile due to the following, IVF is an option.
Damaged fallopian tubes
The fallopian tubes are the female reproductive organs that connect the ovaries and uterus. Pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tube. If the fallopian tube is blocked, the passage of sperm to the eggs is blocked, as well as the return of the uterus to the fertilized egg. The main causes of fallopian tube obstruction include scar tissue, infection, and pelvic adhesions.
Ovulation disorders, meaning that ovulation occurs infrequently or you do not ovulate at all. Problems with regulating reproductive hormones by the pituitary gland and the ovaries can cause ovulation disorders.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue grows normally in the uterus and grows elsewhere.
Fibroids are muscle tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus and are mostly noncancerous.
IVF may be done for other reasons for infertility. Blood tests are usually done 9 to 14 days after IVF to check for pregnancy. Blood test results may be positive initially, but embryonic abnormalities may soon lead to a chemical pregnancy.
Chemical pregnancy does not mean you cannot conceive and give birth healthily. There is no specific treatment for this type of miscarriage, but solutions may reduce the likelihood of the recurrence of this type of pregnancy. If you have had more than one of this type of pregnancy, your ob-gyn may perform tests to diagnose possible causes.
For example, if a miscarriage is caused by an infection, taking antibiotics to clear the infection can improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy and delivery in the future. If the miscarriage was due to your uterus’s problems, you may need surgery to correct the problem and have a healthy pregnancy.
It is important to know that chemical pregnancy is not the only condition that causes the body to produce pregnancy hormones. Higher levels of hCG can also be due to an ectopic pregnancy. The doctor can determine the difference between these two types of pregnancies with the necessary tests.
What is bleeding like in a chemical pregnancy?
Bleeding after a miscarriage or chemical pregnancy begins as spotting and then turns into a more intense flow with blood clots, similar to when you have heavy periods.
How soon can a woman get pregnant again?
Most women can get pregnant again almost immediately after losing a pregnancy unless their doctor thinks otherwise. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ovulation and re-pregnancy are possible as soon as two weeks after a miscarriage.
If a woman had a chemical pregnancy in the past, this does not mean she will have a difficult pregnancy. This kind of pregnancy means the fetus has reached a pre-implantation stage. This is a positive sign that a woman can become pregnant. Women who had a chemical pregnancy in their first IVF cycle are likelier to have a successful pregnancy in the next IVF cycle.
How to recover after a chemical pregnancy?
Any miscarriage will be difficult for both men and women, especially if you have been planning to become pregnant for a long time or have had IVF. You may experience cramps and bleeding a few days after the miscarriage, but emotional recovery may take longer. Friends, family, and counselors can accelerate the process of emotional recovery.
Chemical pregnancies usually end in the first few weeks after a positive pregnancy test. A woman’s hCG level rises high enough to test positive initially, but the pregnancy does not continue and decreases immediately afterward. A woman with multiple chemical pregnancies should see a doctor and determine the causes. If you know the cause of miscarriage early in pregnancy, you may get the right treatment. It should be noted that miscarriage in chemical pregnancy is inevitable.
- Does chemical pregnancy affect the next cycle?
Medically, a chemical pregnancy is like a normal cycle where pregnancy has not occurred. The next cycle will probably be like any other cycle, and ovulation will occur at the usual time.
- How long after the chemical pregnancy test was positive?
It may take a variable amount of time (two weeks on average) for a woman’s hCG levels to disappear after a miscarriage.
- Why is the mother’s age important in pregnancy?
Giving birth at a young age (19 years or younger) or older age (35 years or older) is associated with an increased risk of adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes, such as postpartum hemorrhage, eclampsia, and cephalopelvic incompatibility. The consequences of the baby include premature birth, poor fetal growth, etc.
- What is the ideal BMI for pregnancy?
The ideal BMI for getting pregnant is between 18.5 and 24.9. This is known as the healthy range. If you have a high BMI, getting it closer to a healthy range before trying to conceive can help improve the health of your pregnancy and baby.
- How long is the IVF process from start to finish?
IVF is not a single treatment but a series of procedures. An average IVF cycle from consultation to transfer takes about 6 to 8 weeks, but the path is similar for each patient, depending on each individual’s specific circumstances.