What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy is a miscarriage that occurs within the first five weeks of pregnancy. At this early stage of gestation, the only way to confirm a pregnancy is with a biochemical test. Ultrasounds are unable to detect pregnancy before week six.

It is estimated that around half of all first pregnancies end in miscarriage. Chemical pregnancy is thought to make up the majority of miscarriages that occur early in the pregnancy.

What causes a chemical pregnancy?
There are a number of known possible causes for chemical pregnancies, including:

  • Fetal chromosomal abnormality

  • Uterine abnormality

  • Hormone deficiency

  • Fibroids

How are chemical pregnancies diagnosed?
Most women will not realise they are pregnant so early in the pregnancy, and so the chemical pregnancy may go undiagnosed. Women who are actively trying to conceive, especially those who are monitoring their ovulation and menstrual cycles, are more likely to be aware that they have experienced a chemical pregnancy. Symptoms of chemical pregnancy include:

  • Late period

  • A positive pregnancy test

  • Decreasing hCG levels

To diagnose a chemical pregnancy, your healthcare provider will test your hCG levels on two separate occasions. This will be done by either blood or urine tests. At the start of pregnancy, hCG levels increase rapidly. If the tests show that your hCG levels are decreasing, this will confirm that you are not pregnant. In some cases, an ultrasound scan may be required to give a more final diagnosis.

Most women find that their uterus will spontaneously abort the pregnancy. This will be similar to a normal menstrual cycle. Some women find the bleeding is heavier or last longer, and others report that they experienced a lighter bleed than normal.

Why do I feel so sad?
The use of early pregnancy home testing kits means you are more likely to be aware of a chemical pregnancy. If you have been trying to conceive for some time, or were excited to discover you were pregnant, being diagnosed with a chemical pregnancy can be devastating. The loss or grief you may be experiencing is real, no matter how early the miscarriage occurred. Speak to your partner, and close friends and family for support.

Getting pregnant again
Chemical pregnancies do not lead to any side effects or long term damage. In fact, you are encouraged to start trying to get pregnant again as soon as you feel emotionally ready. Most women go on to have healthy pregnancies.

If you have suffered multiple chemical pregnancies, you should speak to your healthcare provider for advice.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2013. All rights reserved.

Fiona PeacockWhat Is a Chemical Pregnancy?

Comments 9

  1. raksha

    Hello All , I am 26 years Old .Yesterday only I found that I had a miscarriage with chemical pregnecny .

    This is my first pregnancy and I had a PCOD problem with weight .After I reduced I conceived But is is gone. I felt so sad Please let me know is there any hope after CP.Please do support me

  2. Wally

    I had a chemical pregnancy august 2013. I was 5 weeks pregnant. My husband, son and I where very excited when I found out when I had a missed period. Then one morning I started spotting by the end of that day I was bleeding heavy and I had a miscarriage. I was very depressed and distant from everyone I couldn’t understand why that had to happen to me until 6 months later I got pregnant again

  3. Mummy of 8

    I had a chemical pregnancy 3 years ago and it broke my heart all ready having 7 healthy kids but i was pregnant again within weeks and i now have a 2 year old

  4. Biscuitfeatures

    I had a chemical pregnancy last year, only a few weeks after a laparoscopic procedure to treat endometriosis. In the space of 24 hours I got my big fat positive, and then started cramping and bleeding. I was devastated, and still wonder about that tiny embryo that could have been our first baby.

    But just a few months later we fell pregnant again (this time intentionally, too!) and I’ll be 7 months tomorrow! A CP can happen for so many reasons, but it’s usually not something that will affect your chances next time round. Everyone reacts differently, too, so there’s no shame in feeling anything from grief to nothing at all.

  5. Yuli

    I think i just had this today and i am really sad for this is 2nd time. I am super confident that i am pregnant because have my test kit positive for 3 times including one that i tested this morning. So technically, i have pregnant for 1 mth 16 days. Then the brown spot started coming out more and more . Like the normal period. :(
    I pray all time in my heart. But this still happen.
    I leave my faith in Him that He will give me at the right time

  6. Serena

    It’s not true that a sonogram doesn’t show pregnancy til 6 weeks. An internal sonogram shows a pregnancy much earlier , including the baby I am currently carrying being “diagnosed” at 5 weeks 2 days 😉 ( now 14 weeks 4 days )

  7. Jamie

    I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks but the fetus passed away at 8 weeks, so I had already known and told everyone I was pregnant, I was very upset and depressed about it for a whole month, until we found out that I was pregnant again. I am now almost 16 weeks, I have a subcorionic hemorrhage, but the baby is fine and I am so happy! Its normal and okay to grieve, but know that there is hope!!!

  8. Hannah

    I had a chemical pregnancy and it was a very sad time, and I will never forget how I felt that week! . We got pregnant again the next month, and now I have a beautiful little 22 month old girl. I’m now pregnant again with a little boy, due around my little girls 2nd birthday. There is hope, and I’d encourage anyone that has been affected by any sort of miscarriage to keep on trying xxx

  9. Carly

    Had a miscarriage at 5 weeks late last November within 3 weeks I fell pregnant again an I am now in my 2 nd trimester :) there is hope