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What is a chemical pregnancy?

If you are reading this because you or a loved one recently experienced a chemical or biochemical pregnancy loss, I am so sorry. I have experienced 5 miscarriages including one chemical pregnancy. Everyone experiences losses differently, but any pregnancy loss can take a significant emotional toll including chemical pregnancies.

A biochemical or chemical pregnancy occurs when a pregnancy test is positive initially, but it doesn’t progress into a clinical pregnancy. This is a loss that occurs in about the first five weeks of pregnancy. Shortly after the positive pregnancy test, people experiencing a chemical pregnancy will typically get their period.

A clinical pregnancy is a pregnancy that is visualized, either on ultrasound or after a miscarriage when the tissue from the loss is examined by a doctor/pathologist. So essentially, a biochemical pregnancy, is one where in spite of the beta hCG test being “positive”, the pregnancy fails to progress to the point of ultrasound confirmation human chorionic gonadotrophic hormone or HCG is released by an early developing pregnancy

This means a chemical pregnancy is an early pregnancy loss or miscarriage. The pregnancy does not progress to the point where a gestational sack is visualized on ultrasound. It is called a chemical pregnancy, since the it is diagnosed only by chemical means. In contrast, a so-called clinical pregnancy is characterized by the fact that it has reached a stage where the gestation can be seen on ultrasound examination. Because chemical pregnancies happen at an early stage, they typically resolve on their own. Unlike later stage miscarriages, medical treatment such as prescriptions or procedures are not required. That being said, it is important to contact your doctor if you think you are experiencing a loss of any type, so you can be evaluated.

Unfortunately, chemical pregnancies are incredibly common. There is nothing you did to cause this loss and there is nothing you could have done to stop it from happening. Even though chemical losses are common, they can still be devastating. Depending on your TTC journey, the loss of a very much wanted baby can hit hard. If you are struggling, I recommend that you speak with your support people including your family friends and medical professionals like your OB/GYN, primary care provider or therapist. If you want to learn more about causes of chemical pregnancies and how common they are check out my other videos.

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