A Chemical pregnancy occurs when the embryo is implanted but no subsequent embryonic development has taken place, leading to a pregnancy loss and therefore menstruation starts again. This can happen either naturally or after artificial insemination or IVF.
In these cases, the pregnancy test is initially positive because of the increase of beta-hCG. After a few days, however, the beta level drops and the pregnancy test is negative.
Therefore, the most important thing to know if a pregnancy is evolutionary is that the value of the beta hormone hCG doubles every two days.
Below you have an index with the 9 points we are going to deal with in this article.
Chemical pregnancy or miscarriage?
Some professionals call this situation pregnancy while others describe it as miscarriage. But what is the right term?
Both forms are appropriate: we are facing a pregnancy because there has been implantation in the endometrium (uterine layer) and this fact marks the beginning of gestation. However, embryonic development stops and this is what we define as miscarriage.
When a biochemical pregnancy occurs, the test may be positive at first, since the level of beta-hCG has increased as a result of implantation. However, after a few days, the beta level drops, and a negative test result is obtained.
A low level of beta-hCG in the pregnancy test may make us suspect that the biochemical miscarriage will occur. In this case, it will be necessary to repeat the test and study the embryonic evolution to determine if the pregnancy continues or if, on the contrary, an early miscarriage has occurred because the development of the embryo stops a few days after implantation.
Causes of chemical pregnancy
The exact causes of biochemical pregnancy are not known. It is very difficult to know what has caused the embryo, which had managed to implant itself, to finally stop growing and end up detaching from the endometrium.
There are still some possible explanations that could be the cause of a chemical pregnancy:
- Genetic alterations in the embryo or gametes.
- Uterine anomalies.
- Hormonal issues.
- Unhealthy lifestyle.
It should be noted that most specialists recommend not looking for the possible cause of the chemical pregnancy, as this could lead patients to intense frustration.
In natural conception, the woman may not even be aware that she has gone through a biochemical pregnancy and may interpret it simply as a missed period.
Symptos of a chemical pregnancy
A chemical pregnancy normally doesn't present notable symptoms due to the short gestation period. However, there are women who describe clinical manifestations such as the ones mentioned below:
- Abdominal pain.
- Vaginal bleeding.
- Blood clotting.
- Back pain.
- Mild contractions.
Generally speaking, it is not necessary to give medication or perform a curettage once a chemical pregnancy has been diagnosed, as the pregnancy loss is at a very early stage as previously discussed.
Getting pregnant again after chemical pregnancy
Although a biochemical pregnancy is bad news, it does not affect the prognosis of a future pregnancy. Moreover, if a biochemical pregnancy has occurred, a number of barriers have been crossed:
- Fertilization takes place, i.e. the egg and sperm are compatible, as they have been able to fuse.
- The embryo is capable of reaching the blastocyst stage (stage needed to implant in the uterus).
- The endometrium has the right thickness for implantation to take place.
- There is interaction between embryo and endometrium.
From the point of view of artificial insemination and IVF and despite the feeling of disappointment, we should not consider this situation as miscarriage or a pregnancy loss, but simply as a treatment that, although not successful, has almost been successful.
Assisted procreation, as any other medical treatment, requires that you rely on the professionalism of the doctors and staff of the clinic you choose. Obviously, each clinic is different. Get now your Fertility Report, which will select several clinics for you out of the pool of clinics that meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, it will offer you a comparison between the fees and conditions each clinic offers in order for you to make a well informed choice.
Actually, it is considered a good sign or aspect of a good prognosis because it has been proven that women who have had a biochemical pregnancy have a higher probability of success in subsequent transfers.
In any case, the emotional impact of the news of a positive pregnancy test that finally does not lead to gestation is very hard. Therefore, it is essential that future parents be informed of the possibility of a biochemical pregnancy before starting a fertility treatment.
Chemical pregnancies in surrogacy
Just as it occurs in one's own IVF cycles, a biochemical pregnancy is something that can also occur in surrogacy.
When the gestational carrier, popularly known as surrogate mother undergoes the embryo transfer, both she and the future parents expect the pregnancy to be evolutionary. However, it is possible that the transferred embryo or embryos may succeed in implanting but subsequently do not evolve positively. This would result in early miscarriage.
Obtaining a negative pregnancy result or the start of menstruation can make us suspect that a biochemical pregnancy has occurred. Nevertheless, it is important that the surrogate receives confirmation from a specialist.
Surrogacy is probably the most confusing of all infertility treatments. Transparency is a key value for us when it comes to recommending a clinic or agency for intended parents. You can now use this tool to receive a detailed report that will solve any question you may have, and most importantly, to help you avoid potential frauds.
FAQs from users
When does my period set in after a chemical pregnancy?
Usually, the onset of menstruation occurs a few days after the embryo stops developing and detaches from the endometrium on which it had implanted. However, there are situations in which there is a delay in menstruation due to the hormonal imbalance caused by the pregnancy and the subsequent loss of it.
When can I try for pregnancy again after a chemical pregnancy?
Once the period has started after the chemical pregnancy, a new cycle begins and it is possible to try for pregnancy again since the chemical pregnancy has no negative consequences or special effects on a woman's fertility.
Is it possible for a biochemical pregnancy to occur if the pregnancy test indicates a high beta value?
It is possible, although taking into account that the biochemical pregnancy is early, the usual is that the beta level has not increased too much and, therefore, it is usually low. In addition, once the embryo is detached from the endometrium, the beta is low, which makes it even rarer to obtain a high beta.
Would a positive test in a chemical pregnancy be a false positive?
Not exactly. Although it is true that it is a positive result when there really is no pregnancy, the reason we get the positive one is true: there has been implantation. For this reason, the positive one is true, only that soon after it becomes negative because the embryo stops its evolution.
How long do I bleed during a chemical pregnancy?
The length of bleeding can vary from woman to woman. In some cases, a woman may bleed for only a few hours. However, at other times, bleeding may last up to a week.
In any case, it is best to follow all the guidelines established by the doctor and ask him/her any questions that may arise.
Suggested for you
We have commented that biochemical pregnancy does not reveal specific symptoms and, therefore, the way to know if we are dealing with a case of this type is by analyzing the evolution of the beta-hCG with the pregnancy test. Do you want to know more about this test? Find out here: Pregnancy Test.
Our editors have made great efforts to create this content for you. By sharing this post, you are helping us to keep ourselves motivated to work even harder.
Ellish NJ, Saboda K, Connor JO, Nasca PC, Stanek EJ, Boyle C. A prospective study of early pregnancy loss. Hum Reprod 1996;11:406 – 412.
Levy T, Dicker D, Ashkenazi J, Feldberg D, Shelef M, Goldman JA. The prognostic value and significance of preclinical abortions in in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer programs. Fertil Steril 1991;56:71–4.
Wang JX, Norman RJ,Wilcox AL. Incidence of spontaneous abortion among pregnancies produced by assisted reproductive technology. Hum Reprod 2004;19:272 – 227.
Wilcox AJ, Weinberg CR, O’Connor JF, Baird DD, Schlatterer JP, Canfield RE, Armstrong EG, Nisula BC. Incidence of early loss of pregnancy. N Engl J Med 1988;319:189 – 194.
Zinaman MJ, O’Conner J, Clegg ED, Brown CC, Selevan SG. Estimates of human fertility and pregnancy loss. Fertil Steril 1996;65:503– 509.
FAQs from users: 'When does my period set in after a chemical pregnancy?', 'When can I try for pregnancy again after a chemical pregnancy?', 'Is it possible for a biochemical pregnancy to occur if the pregnancy test indicates a high beta value?', 'Would a positive test in a chemical pregnancy be a false positive?' and 'How long do I bleed during a chemical pregnancy?'.