A chemical pregnancy (sometimes called biochemical pregnancy) is a very early pregnancy loss which usually happens just after the embryo implants (before or around 5 weeks).
As it happens at such an early stage, you may not have any pregnancy symptoms apart from your positive test and it would be too early to be able to see anything on a scan. Some women may not even realise that they have experienced a chemical pregnancy as they might not have taken a test or have missed their period.
In recent years, pregnancy tests have become much more sensitive and it is possible to detect pregnancy hormones up to 3 days before a period is due. It’s thought that as a result, more women are detecting these very early losses.
What are the symptoms of a chemical pregnancy?
Symptoms of chemical pregnancy can vary between women. Some will not experience any symptoms at all. However, some women do notice the following:
- A positive pregnancy test that can quickly turn negative
- Mild spotting a week before their period is due
- Very mild abdominal cramping
- Vaginal bleeding even after testing positive
- Low HcG levels if your doctor takes a blood test
Will I need any treatment?
A chemical pregnancy does not usually require medical intervention or treatment. However, you may notice that your period is heavier or more painful than normal and you may pass some small blood clots.
Why did it happen?
It is thought that chemical pregnancies occur for similar reasons to many other miscarriages. The most common cause is likely to be chromosomal problems with the developing baby and these are usually random, ‘one-off’ problems.
Is it normal to feel upset?
Even the earliest of pregnancy losses can be very distressing.
Whether your pregnancy was planned or unplanned, the positive pregnancy test might well have sparked thoughts and plans about the future. Even if you only knew you were pregnant for a few days, you may still have feelings of loss and grief, perhaps especially if took a long time, and possibly fertility treatment, to conceive.
You might be upset by the term ‘chemical pregnancy’ itself and feel that it doesn’t at all match your feelings about the baby you began thinking of as soon as you knew you were pregnant.
Not everyone is upset, though. You might feel a little sad but just accept the loss as ‘one of those things’. You may feel relieved that if things had to go wrong, this happened earlier rather than later in the pregnancy. There are no right or wrong feelings.
Whatever your feelings, if you would find it helpful to talk things through, do get in touch. You can see the ways we help here.