What is Chemical Pregnancy?
A chemical pregnancy is a miscarriage that happens before the fifth week of pregnancy. The embryo implants in your uterus but it never takes hold. The loss happens so early that you may not even know you're pregnant.
The name "chemical pregnancy" means you had a positive result on a test that uses chemicals to detect pregnancy. It's different from a "clinical pregnancy," which means your doctor can see your growing baby on an ultrasound.
How is a chemical pregnancy diagnosed?
Sometimes women have a positive blood test or pregnancy test, but start bleeding shortly afterward. In this case, they may have more blood tests to find out what’s happening. Sometimes blood tests aren’t done because a pregnancy test may be negative after just a few days.
If blood is taken and shows that the pregnancy hormones are decreasing rather than increasing, a woman will be diagnosed as miscarrying a chemical pregnancy.
If you have any bleeding during your pregnancy, with or without pain, it’s very important to get it checked out.
What causes a chemical pregnancy?
At the start of a pregnancy, an egg and a sperm combine 23 chromosomes from each partner to form a zygote with 46 chromosomes. The zygote begins to grow through rapid cell division, evolves into a blastocyst, and implants in the uterine wall.Most early pregnancy losses, including chemical pregnancies, are caused by chromosomal abnormalities.
In a chemical pregnancy:
- A sperm or an egg has too many chromosomes or not enough.
- After conception, the resulting zygote (early embryo) also has an abnormal number of chromosomes.
- This chromosomal abnormality causes errors that make it so that the embryo can’t develop normally.
Chromosomal abnormalities occur randomly and can happen to anyone. However, the chance of chromosomal abnormalities increases significantly with age.
Chemical pregnancies definitely don’t mean you won’t be able to get pregnant and stay pregnant in the future.
What are the risk factors of chemical pregnancy?
While you can't prevent a chemical pregnancy, there are some known risk factors. Chemical pregnancies are often identified in women who are undergoing IVF.1 The heightened anticipation of a pregnancy during IVF may lead some couples to test more frequently and earlier than those conceiving naturally.
Other risk factors and untreated conditions that may increase your chances of having a chemical pregnancy include:3
*A blood clotting disorder
*Maternal age over 35
*Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Could a Chemical Pregnancy Affect The Fertility?
A chemical pregnancy shouldn't affect your fertility. The fact that you had a positive pregnancy test is actually a good sign. It means that you can get pregnant again in the future. In studies, women who had a chemical pregnancy after IVF had a higher chance of getting pregnant on their next try.
Is a chemical pregnancy a real baby?
A chemical pregnancy happens when one of your eggs and sperm combine, but the combination doesn't develop into an embryo. Technically, you've conceived, which is why a pregnancy test might give you a positive result.
The embryo's structure is not perfect, due to the poor coordination of genes or the lack of some genes, leading to the embryo not developing, degenerating, and self-destructing. In this case, if a woman is still able to give birth to a child, the baby is also prone to malformations.
What happens to your body during a chemical pregnancy?
The majority of women who have had a chemical pregnancy never actually realize they’ve conceived, since the only real symptom is a late period. A chemical pregnancy is sometimes revealed when an early pregnancy test shows a faint positive result but later returns a negative result in a week or two.
Since home pregnancy tests are now quite sensitive, many women find out that they are pregnant very early—even before their expected period. The cells of the fertilized egg produce enough of the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to elicit a positive pregnancy test result, but then the embryo stops developing.
The loss of a chemical pregnancy will typically happen about a week after your regular period was due.
While some might expect that the menstrual bleeding would be heavier than usual with a chemical pregnancy, it is often the same as a normal period. Other signs of a chemical pregnancy may include:
*Low hCG levels on a blood test
*Mild abdominal cramping or more cramping than usual during a period
*Mild spotting about a week before a normal period is due (this is different than implantation bleeding, or spotting that occurs in early pregnancy)
What are the Complications of Chemical Pregnancy?
There aren’t usually any physical complications of a chemical pregnancy, aside from cramping and sometimes heavier-than-usual bleeding. In rare instances, women may experience very heavy bleeding or hemorrhaging after a chemical pregnancy, which can lead to anemia; this requires medical attention.
How Many People Have a Chemical Pregnancy?
Chemical pregnancies are extremely common — as many as one-third of all pregnancies may be chemical pregnancies, and up to 22 percent of IVF pregnancies may be chemical pregnancies
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