What is a Chemical Pregnancy?

 

A chemical pregnancy is a miscarriage that occurs very early on in a woman’s pregnancy.   Due to the very sensitive pregnancy tests available,  women are able to find out that they are pregnant VERY early in the pregnancy.    Most tests can detect a pregnancy 3 or 4 days before your period is due.   The chemical pregnancy / early miscarriage usually occurs close to the time the period was actually due.

 

The Case for Using a Pregnancy Test AFTER Your Period is Due

While the super sensitive pregnancy tests are very popular when you are trying to conceive, they do have a very sad downside.

If you use a pregnancy test, before your period is actually late, the pregnancy test can show a positive for a impending chemical pregnancy AND  a viable pregnancy.   If an early miscarriage does occur, you will have to deal with the crushing sadness that comes with your period arriving a little late, when you weren’t expecting it at all.  The emotional rollercoaster can be avoided If you simply wait for your period to be late before you test.  If you had waited, you wouldn’t have known about the pregnancy in the first place.

 

Symptoms of a Chemical Pregnancy

The signs of a chemical pregnancy are very similar to your normal period.  Bleeding starts after you have gotten a positive pregnancy test and can be heavier than your normal period .  You may have more cramps and pass more clots than usual.

 

What is the Difference Between a Chemical Pregnancy and a Miscarriage?

They are both types of miscarriage.  When the loss happens  determines if you had a chemical pregnancy or a miscarriage.   Ultimately, it is just a label.  A loss is a loss and feels just as devastating no matter what you call it.

If the loss occurs  within a week of when your period should have started,  this would be classified as a “chemical pregnancy” or an “early miscarriage”.




Doctors will say a pregnancy loss at 6 weeks gestation or more is a miscarriage.  The embryo will have implanted in the uterus and it would have been possible to see the embryo with an ultrasound.

 

Common Reasons Why Chemical Pregnancies Occur

 

The majority of chemical pregnancies occur because there are chromosomal problems in the fetus as it develops.  Other potential reasons why you might experience a chemical pregnancy include congenital or acquired abnormalities in the uterus, low hormonal levels, inadequate lining in the uterus, luteal phase defect, and certain infections.

 

Chemical Pregnancies – Can They Prevented?

 

The majority of chemical pregnancies aren’t preventable. If you continue to experience chemical pregnancies, it is always a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to investigate the root cause of the pregnancy loss issues.  They will help form a plan of action which will help you achieve a successful pregnancy.

 

There are several potential treatments to help lessen the likelihood of chemical pregnancies. Some of the most common solutions that your doctor might prescribe include vitamin B6 in doses of at least 50mg each day.  Baby aspirin has been shown to be helpful in preventing early miscarriages.  Even progesterone cream can help create level, pregnancy friendly, hormonal levels. Your treatment plan will on your symptoms.  You should work closely with your doctor to determine the best option for you.

 

In the case that infection is the cause of your chemical pregnancies, you should also visit your doctor.  Antibiotics can resolve any infections that you’re experiencing.   Clearing up the infection will help lessen the chances that you will have another chemical pregnancy.

 

References
Sjaarda LA, Radin RG, Silver RM, Mitchell E, Mumford SL, Wilcox B, Galai N, Perkins NJ, Wactawski-Wende J, Stanford JB, et al. Preconception Low-Dose Aspirin Restores Diminished Pregnancy and Live Birth Rates in Women With Low-Grade Inflammation: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 May 1;102(5):1495-1504. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-2917. PubMed PMID: 28323989; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5443323.