Note: This is not medical advice. Always consult your doctor before making any decisions that can impact your health or your baby’s.
Are you facing a potential chemical pregnancy?
If so, you should know that you aren’t alone. Millions of women have chemical pregnancies each year, myself included. I’ve had three, and despite people telling me that “it was too early to be attached,” we know that the pain is still there.
I know that I had a lot of questions when I had my chemical pregnancies, so I wanted to answer those same questions for you.
You aren’t alone. Remember that!
What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?
By definition, a chemical pregnancy is a miscarriage that takes place before the fifth week of gestation. That means you’ll have a miscarriage within one week of when you expect your period. The loss takes place before the fetus is visible on an ultrasound, and most women won’t have any pregnancy symptoms except cramping, which they might associate with their upcoming period.
Even though it’s early into the pregnancy, a chemical pregnancy is still a miscarriage. Doctors use a different name to describe it because it is so soon into the pregnancy. They chose this term because the only way to determine pregnancy is by the diagnosis, which requires chemicals and hormones in your body.
You should note that bleeding after a positive pregnancy test doesn’t always mean you’re having a chemical pregnancy. Many women experience implantation bleeding, which is when you bleed after the embryo attaches to your uterus.
How Do You Know If You Have a Chemical Pregnancy
Unfortunately, in most cases, the only way to know that you’re having a chemical pregnancy is if you received a positive pregnancy test. That is why so many women have no idea that they conceived at all! Chemical pregnancies typically don’t affect menstruation, and if it does, the difference will be so slight that you might not think much of at the time. By the time you’re bleeding, you won’t receive a positive pregnancy test.
The amount of women who know they are having a chemical pregnancy has increased as more sensitive home pregnancy tests appear on the market. When women can deter pregnancy faster at home, they also realize when they lose a pregnancy as well.
Are There Causes of a Chemical Pregnancy?
Before you think that you did something wrong, you need to understand that chances are the embryo was never likely to survive. Miscarriage was on the horizon even before the first cell division.
When we think about conception, you might imagine the magical moment with the lucky sperm meets the awaiting egg. In reality, some doctors estimate that only one-third of fertilized eggs are capable of completing implantation.
For those cases, you’ll never have any idea that you conceived. HCG, the pregnancy hormone, was never created, so you could never receive a positive pregnancy test.
Chemical pregnancies are when the fertilized egg is strong enough to implant into the walls of the uterus, leading to the creation of HCG. You receive a positive pregnancy test, but the embryo isn’t healthy enough to progress beyond implantation. It feels cruel, right?
The cause of most early losses is believed to be chromosomal abnormalities, which take place when the zygote undergoes rapid cell division. Most abnormalities take place during this stage, but you should know that they are random and can happen to anyone.
Other causes include:
- Abnormal hormone levels
- Uterine abnormalities
- Implantation outside of the uterus
- Infections like chlamydia or syphilis
You aren’t at fault. You cannot prevent or cause a miscarriage.
What Increases the Risk of Early Losses?
A few factors do increase the risk for these losses, such as:
- Advanced Maternal Age (over 35 years old)
- Clotting Disorders
- Thyroid Conditions
Should I See a Doctor?
In most cases, early pregnancy losses don’t require medical intervention. It’s believed that around 50% of women experience early losses, and most of those don’t require visiting a doctor.
There are some times that seeing a doctor would be a good idea. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact a medical provider because you might be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
- Stabbing or sharp pain
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
Also, if you’ve had one or two chemical pregnancies, it’s typically not a sign of an issue. If you’ve had three early losses, your doctor might want to try some testing to rule out any medical problems, such as low progesterone.
What to Expect the Period Afterward?
When you have a chemical pregnancy, you will bleed a bit heavier than an average period, but it might not be too noticeable. This miscarriage doesn’t result in the crazy heavy bleeding as a miscarriage at 8-10 weeks of gestation.
When your next monthly cycle arrives, your period should be normal. It shouldn’t delay the start of your cycle at all, either.
How Soon Can You Conceive After a Chemical Pregnancy?
In most cases, you can conceive the cycle after your loss. The chances are good that the next pregnancy will be healthy. Because the loss happened so early in the pregnancy, they don’t have any effects on the woman’s body.
Is Grieving Afterward Normal?
I know that I start the visions as soon as I get the positive lines on a pregnancy test. I start to imagine this new little human in our family, and I think about what he or she would look like or act. We become invested quickly in our pregnancies.
Having a chemical pregnancy puts you in a unique situation when it comes to grieving. Some women feel a little sadness, while others are devastated. At the same time, when you have an early loss, you do feel isolated in your grief. Some people refuse to acknowledge the loss because it was so early, telling you that it wasn’t a “real baby” yet.
No matter what anyone tells you, a miscarriage is still a miscarriage, even if it happens early. You don’t need to justify your feelings to anyone. Reach out to others who support you or have experienced the same loss.
The chances are high that you’ll experience a chemical pregnancy. It’s best to understand what is a chemical pregnancy and what it means for your body. You are among the thousands of women who have early losses each year.