Chemical Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes, and Healing

Every woman experiences a miscarriage differently. If she had a very early miscarriage, also known as a chemical pregnancy, she may feel confused. If you suspect that you had a chemical pregnancy, you don’t have to figure it out on your own! 


What is a chemical pregnancy? 

A chemical pregnancy is an early miscarriage that occurs in the first four to five weeks of pregnancy. 


About six days after fertilization of a sperm and an egg, the embryo implants into the lining of a woman’s uterus. If the embryo never implants into the uterus or does not continue to develop, then the woman has had a chemical pregnancy. Eventually the woman’s body expels the embryo and the lining of her uterus. 


Why are they called chemical pregnancies? 

The term “chemical pregnancy” may sound harsh, but it simply refers to the pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophic (or hCG). An embryo produces the hCG that is detected by a urine test or blood test. In a chemical pregnancy, a woman may have a positive pregnancy test, without any other pregnancy signs or symptoms. 


What are the symptoms of a chemical pregnancy? 

Many women may not know they had a chemical pregnancy because signs of a chemical pregnancy occur around the time of her period. Possible signs include:  


  • A positive pregnancy test at home with minimal pregnancy symptoms (such as fatigue, breast tenderness, or nausea), followed by a negative pregnancy test a few days later. 
  • A positive pregnancy test but then the return of a period. Sometimes the period may be heavier with more cramping than normal. 


It’s also important that women take a home pregnancy test correctly. Call Alternatives Medical Clinic for free pregnancy testing


Can my doctor tell me if I’ve had a chemical pregnancy? 

If a doctor suspects a chemical pregnancy, he or she may simply order multiple hCG blood levels. In a normally developing pregnancy, the hCG levels will increase rapidly, but in a chemical pregnancy the levels decline. Alternatives Medical Clinic does not provide hCG blood tests, but our licensed medical staff can speak to you about your concerns and provide referrals for local doctors offices if needed. 


What could cause a chemical pregnancy? 

Chemical pregnancies could be caused by genetic problems in the embryo, a woman’s hormonal imbalances, or uterine abnormalities that prevent implantation. Most of these causes are outside of a woman’s control. Women who suspect a chemical pregnancy should speak with their healthcare provider.  


How common are chemical pregnancies? 

Experts estimate that up to  half of embryos never implant into the uterus, but most women do not even know that they were pregnant. 


Is a chemical pregnancy a real pregnancy? 

A chemical pregnancy is a ‘real’ pregnancy because a woman’s body changes for a fertilized embryo. Women (and men) may still experience grief and confusion with a chemical pregnancy. 


What happens after a chemical pregnancy? 

After a chemical pregnancy, women experience period-like bleeding and cramping. Sometimes it is a little heavier and more painful. If you are experiencing severe bleeding or cramping you should seek medical attention immediately with your doctor, an urgent care, or the emergency room depending on the severity. Alternatives Medical Clinic does not provide urgent or emergent medical services.   


Can I get pregnant after a chemical pregnancy? 

Women who experience one chemical pregnancy often go on to have healthy pregnancies in the future. In fact, you may be able to conceive again a few weeks after your chemical pregnancy. But, if you’re concerned about your ability to get pregnant again, speak to your healthcare provider. 

Every woman experiences a chemical pregnancy differently. Some women feel relieved if the pregnancy was unplanned. Regardless of how you feel, contact Alternatives Medical Clinic. We offer miscarriage relational support in a confidential space to process your feelings. We also offer referrals for local professional counseling if needed. We are here to walk with you as you seek health, healing, and hope! Schedule your appointment with us today by calling 760-741-9796 or by making an appointment online.