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What Is A Chemical Pregnancy?

Chemical pregnancies can be emotionally and physically challenging for those trying to conceive. This article explains what a chemical pregnancy is and provides insights into its causes, symptoms, and implications.

  • 06 Nov 2023
  • 3 min read
  • 124 views

A chemical pregnancy refers to an extremely early miscarriage occurring within the initial five weeks of pregnancy. An embryo has formed and is even embedded in the uterus lining but then doesn’t develop further and the woman even starts menstruating after this. Chemical pregnancies occur so early on, that many people who miscarry don’t realise it and later get diagnosed by a doctor when they perform a pregnancy test, which shows a positive pregnancy but no fetus on the ultrasound. The doctor can confirm a chemical pregnancy with a simple urine or blood test and by checking the level of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the blood. Read on to learn more about what a chemical pregnancy is.

 

Chemical pregnancy explained

A chemical pregnancy is also known as a biochemical pregnancy, which is quite common today. It happens when an egg is fertilised but doesn’t fully implant in the uterus, resulting in an early miscarriage within the fifth week of pregnancy. What’s more, research has found that many such cases are reported with a ratio of one in four pregnancies lost even before a woman misses her period or has any symptoms related to pregnancy.

Chemical pregnancy may occur when a woman is trying to conceive a child through a process called in vitro fertilisation (IVF). These pregnancies are monitored closely by the doctor, which helps them to detect early miscarriages that occur due to chemical pregnancies. However, IVF alone isn’t a risk factor for a chemical pregnancy.

The chances of chemical pregnancy increase if:

  • The woman is aged 35 years or older
  • The woman has an atypically shaped uterus
  • Hormone levels are too high or too low
  • The woman is infected with a sexually transmitted infection/disease
  • The woman thyroid disorders and/or polycystic ovarian disorder (PCOD).

Also read:

Symptoms of a chemical pregnancy

Since it is an early miscarriage, many women who have a chemical pregnancy don’t realise they’re pregnant, as the loss happens so early. However, some symptoms of a chemical pregnancy include:

  • Heavier menstrual periods than normal
  • Severe menstrual cramping (more than usual)
  • Low human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone level

The exact cause of chemical pregnancy is unknown, but it is more likely that the embryo stops developing because of the following:

  • Any sort of genetic abnormalities in DNA or chromosome
  • Imbalanced hormones
  • Lack of proper implantation in the uterus
  • Low body weight

 

Any miscarriage can be an emotional moment for the woman and many feel a sense of grief and loss. Additionally, there may be hormonal shifts after chemical pregnancies, so it is advisable to consult a fertility specialist to figure out what's going on.

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