Chemical Pregnancies

What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?

After months of trying, counting the days, and endless doctor’s appointments, learning you’re pregnant can feel like a miracle. Sometimes, however, the pregnancy does not progress and a miscarriage occurs. Studies show that between 10%-25% of all pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. 

A miscarriage is a term used to describe a pregnancy that has ended on its own within the first 20 weeks of gestation. Chemical pregnancies, a term for pregnancies lost shortly after the implantation of the egg, can be difficult to identify without a test because these miscarriages typically happen before the woman even realizes she is pregnant. The miscarriage causes bleeding which is often mistaken for a regular menstrual period.

What Are the Symptoms?

While every person is different, chemical pregnancies often have similar identifying symptoms. Cramping, similar to that which you experience during your menstrual cycle, is common during chemical pregnancies, as well as bleeding. While bleeding is common, bleeding after a positive pregnancy test doesn’t always mean a chemical pregnancy has occurred. Consult with your health care professional if you believe that you have suffered a miscarriage.

What Happens?

After conception, a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus around three weeks after your last menstrual period. Cells that would become the placenta, begin creating high levels of the hormone hCG, which is what can be detected by pregnancy tests. However, the implantation never fully occurs, and an ultrasound won’t be able to pick up a developing placenta.

What Causes a Chemical Pregnancy?

There are different causes for each miscarriage. In many cases it could be due to the overproduction or underproduction of chromosomes during the rapid division stage of conception. These abnormalities are random and could happen to anyone regardless of reproductive health. They are believed to be the leading cause of early miscarriages.

The important thing to remember when it comes to chemical pregnancies is that even if you’ve had one, it doesn’t make you any less likely to conceive in the future. Chemical pregnancies are more akin to pregnancies that just never happened rather than miscarriages. However, that doesn’t lessen the emotional stress that goes along with it.


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