When your period is due by a few days, you test your pregnancy and it might show positive. Although you start feeling joyous about the fact, within a week or two, you might have your periods back. It can be frightening, depressing and quite confusing as well. As you see a doctor, the doctor will tell you that you have had a chemical pregnancy. Let us have a look at what chemical pregnancy is, its symptoms, causes, treatment and outcome.

What Causes Chemical Pregnancy & Does it Require Treatment?

What is Chemical Pregnancy?

The term is quite confusing and patients often do not know, whether they have been pregnant at all or not. Although the term sounds like a false positive pregnancy test, it actually indicates that the woman had been pregnant. However, she actually undergoes a very early miscarriage. This occurs even before the doctor could see anything or even listen to the heartbeats of the baby in the womb through an ultrasound scan.

Chemical pregnancy occurs around the fifth week of your pregnancy. The fact is that a sperm successfully fertilizes the egg, but the egg fails to survive. Although many women are not aware of this, it is by far the most common cause of miscarriage, associating 60% to 75% of all miscarriages with this.

Signs and Symptoms of Chemical Pregnancy

In most cases, the women do not even understand that they had had a pregnancy ever and that the pregnancy has been miscarried. Hence, the symptoms of chemical pregnancy are not very prominent. Still, some women commonly notice –

  • A positive pregnancy test
  • Mild spotting a week before the period is due can be a sign and symptom of chemical pregnancy.
  • Very mild abdominal cramping
  • Low hCG hormone levels
  • Vaginal bleeding even after testing positive can also be a sign and symptom of chemical pregnancy.

In some cases, the bleeding is heavier than normal.

What Causes a Chemical Pregnancy?

When an egg is fertilized, it releases a hormone called the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or hCG hormone. This hormone level in the blood determines how healthy the fertilized egg is. As the hCG hormone levels cross the margin, it can be detected in the urine. Hence, by doing an early urine pregnancy test, the result is found positive which can be detected within one or two days of missed periods. However, if you have a chemical pregnancy, your hCG hormones, instead of rising in its levels, go down and indicate that you have had an early miscarriage.

The reason behind chemical pregnancy is not very clear to the doctors. However, like most other miscarriages, this too is often attributed to the chromosomal abnormalities in the developing foetus. Why abnormalities are found in the chromosome can have a number of reasons behind it such as – poor quality of the egg as well as the sperm, genetic abnormalities in either or both of the parents that is passed down to the foetus or even abnormalities in its cell division trend.

The additional causes of this type of miscarriage or chemical pregnancy includes –

  • Acquired or congenital abnormalities of the uterus
  • Inadequate uterus lining
  • Low hormone levels
  • Untreated thyroid disease or other systemic illnesses
  • Certain infections like chlamydia, toxoplasmosis or syphilis
  • Luteal phase defect
  • Implantation of the foetus outside the uterus

How is Chemical Pregnancy Diagnosed?

If you have had the signs and symptoms, as mentioned already in the article, you might need a confirmed diagnosis for the chemical pregnancy. For that the doctor will run some hCG hormone tests that would check for the increase or decrease of the hCG hormone. An increase would indicate a normal pregnancy and a decrease would indicate a chemical pregnancy. The doctor will then perform the ultrasound to check for the embryo implantation. If heartbeat is not found and if the hCG hormone level is low, it would confirm the chemical pregnancy.

Does Chemical Pregnancy Require Any Treatment?

Chemical pregnancy does not require any treatment as such. However, if you suspect that you might have this condition in case of your pregnancy, consult with a doctor to monitor the hCG levels. In case chemical pregnancy occurs, the removal or abortion of the uterine contents is natural and spontaneous in most cases. However, if this does not happen, the doctor will remove the excess tissue by performing the D&C (dilation and curettage) method. This will stop bleeding and no infection will occur further. If the removal is not done, the empty placenta might harm the health and safety of the mother. If the reason for the chemical pregnancy is an infection, a normal course of antibiotics will cure the infection.

What Could be the Possible Consequences of a Chemical Pregnancy?

For those women, who are actively trying to conceive, chemical pregnancies can be extremely devastating. Many of the friends and family members might console and many might ask you not to grieve as it was too early in your pregnancy that the mishap occurred, justifying that there is nothing to grieve. However, grieving and feeling devastated is common in most women.

Although, no evidences have been found that indicate that the chemical pregnancy can be alarming for your later pregnancies to take place; still, if you have three chemical pregnancies in a row, you need to see a doctor to rule out the possible reasons for this condition, so that you have a healthy and natural pregnancy in the next attempt.

When Can I Conceive Again After A Chemical Pregnancy?

Many doctors say that you can try to conceive just after you have had your chemical pregnancy as it has no impact on your overall health. However, many doctors also ask you to wait for the next menstrual cycle and then proceed in the trial. Whether you should wait or try at once, must be discussed with your doctor.

Prevention of Chemical Pregnancy

There is no possible prevention for this type of pregnancy. However, if you have had recurring chemical pregnancies, you should consult with a doctor and have yourself completely diagnosed. After identifying your health issues or the possible causes behind this type of pregnancy, the doctor will recommend proper treatments. Usually vitamin B6 supplements are added to your diet. In some cases, the doctor recommends taking progesterone cream or other topical treatments and also medicines such as baby aspirin to keep the mother healthy.

Although there are no ways to prevent chemical pregnancy, yet the chances of its occurrence can be reduced. Since only 50% of pregnancies are planned, all women of the childbearing age must keep a note of their lifestyle. Eating healthy, exercising and staying in a healthy weight limit as per your height helps in maintaining a balanced life. Women must start taking folic acid supplements as per the doctor's guidelines and also take care of the vitamins and minerals required by the body. They must also avoid excessive exertion, contact sports, injury to lower abdomen, exposure to radiations and serious infections which could lead to miscarriage.

Conclusion

Chemical pregnancies can certainly be devastating for the mother, no matter how short lived the pregnancy was or even because the baby was never born. However, it does not mean that you will never be able to conceive again. Just make sure that you take care of your health and have all the possibilities for the miscarriage eliminated. This will help you in a positive conception.

Also Read:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 28, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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