May 25, 2022

What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?

Close up of a woman holding a pregnancy test

The term chemical pregnancy refers to a miscarriage that occurs very early in a pregnancy — before the fifth week. Chemical pregnancies are common and account for 50-75% of miscarriages. 

Sometimes called a biochemical pregnancy, this type of event is the result of an egg being fertilized but not fully implanting in the uterus. Because it happens so early in pregnancy, you may not be aware that conception occurred. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Chemical Pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy ends soon after it occurs. Even so, the fertilization of the egg triggers hormonal changes like the production of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that can be detected and can produce a positive pregnancy test. 

Other symptoms can include a heavier than usual period, more menstrual cramps than normal, and the lack of typical signs of pregnancy like breast soreness and morning sickness after a positive pregnancy test.

What Are the Causes of Chemical Pregnancies?

First, it’s important to note that there’s very little a person can do to prevent a chemical pregnancy, and neither partner should consider themself “responsible” for an early miscarriage. Also, a chemical pregnancy is no indicator of your ability to get pregnant in the future.

There are many causes of chemical pregnancies. Among the most common are:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Lack of secure implantation in the uterus
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Genetic problems in the embryo
  • Low body weight
  • Infections like syphilis or chlamydia
  • Being over the age of 35

Other risk factors may affect the likelihood of a chemical pregnancy occurring, including having diabetes, thyroid problems, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or blood clotting disorders. 

Healthy Ways to Grieve

Healthy grieving results in an ability to remember the importance of your loss with a newfound sense of peace. Learn more about the stages of grief and healthy ways to cope in this article.

Treatment Following a Chemical Pregnancy

Typically, no treatment is required following a chemical pregnancy. Because the miscarriage happens so early in pregnancy, it’s likely to produce a heavier-than-usual period but no other issues. And, if you choose to, you can start trying to conceive again immediately following a chemical pregnancy.

If you experience multiple chemical pregnancies, you should contact a fertility specialist. They may be able to determine why this is occurring and provide guidance and treatment focused on helping you sustain a pregnancy and carry a baby to term.

Managing the Emotional Impact of a Chemical Pregnancy

A miscarriage at any stage of pregnancy can produce strong emotions such as feelings of grief and loss. It can be helpful to talk about these feelings with your partner, family members, close friends, or a counselor. 

Keep in mind that every person’s grieving process is different and that you should allow yourself to grieve in whatever way helps you heal. You should also be aware that emotional healing often takes longer than physical healing. So, while your body may be ready to conceive again quickly, your heart may not. Both you and your partner have to be patient. 

Mother & Baby Care at Baptist Health

Most who experience a chemical pregnancy can conceive again and enjoy a normal, healthy pregnancy. As you begin thinking about delivering your baby, you can find information on our Maternity Care services online. 

And if you don’t yet have a Baptist Health doctor, you can find one near you using our provider directory

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Understanding Miscarriage
Healthy Ways to Grieve

Learn More.