What is a chemical pregnancy?
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Jul 14, 2019
A chemical pregnancy or an early miscarriage is a pregnancy loss that occurs shortly after the implantation. Chemical pregnancies account for about half to three-fourths of all miscarriages. It occurs early in the first few weeks of pregnancy before the doctor is able to detect the fetus through the ultrasound.
It is termed as a chemical pregnancy because of the levels of a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which is initially elevated which produces a positive result in a pregnancy test, but the levels dip again before the doctor can detect the fetus through the ultrasound test. Many women who do not regularly do a pregnancy test even after having unprotected sex may have chemical pregnancies without even knowing about it.
Symptoms of a chemical pregnancy:
As already mentioned, many women have chemical pregnancies without even knowing about it as it does not cause any symptoms. However, the symptoms may include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pinkish or brownish vaginal discharge
All of these symptoms occur a few days after testing positive for a pregnancy test. However, bleeding after a positive pregnancy test may not always imply a chemical pregnancy, as bleeding also occurs during normal pregnancy. In most cases, chemical pregnancy occurs even before the initial symptoms of pregnancy like nausea and fatigue start to occur. Since the symptoms are very similar to that of menstruation, many women do not know if it is a chemical pregnancy or not.
What causes a chemical pregnancy?
Though the exact cause of a chemical pregnancy is unknown, experts think that it is caused due to one of the following factors:
- Problems with the embryo (due to the low quality of the sperm or the egg)
- Uterine abnormalities and uterine diseases
- Infections like syphilis
- Implantation outside the uterus
- Abnormal hormone levels which make implantation unfavorable
In some cases, a chemical pregnancy occurs after an IVF treatment. Initially, the test results for the IVF may be positive, but a chemical pregnancy may occur soon after. Besides, experts have identified certain risk factors which may significantly increase the risk of having a chemical pregnancy. These risk factors include age (above 35), medical conditions like thyroid disorders, blood clotting, etc.
Treatment of chemical pregnancy:
A chemical pregnancy does not imply that the person will always be unable to conceive or have a normal and healthy delivery. However, steps can be taken to minimize the risk of a chemical pregnancy. In cases of recurring chemical pregnancies, the doctor may perform several tests and exams to identify the underlying cause of the condition. Sometimes, treating these causes and conditions like uterine abnormalities, chemical pregnancy does not recur.
An ectopic pregnancy (a condition where the embryo implants itself outside the uterus) may cause similar symptoms and the doctor may perform tests to rule out an ectopic pregnancy before providing the treatment for a chemical pregnancy.
Chemical pregnancy and IVF:
IVF (in-vitro fertilization) is a procedure in which the fertilization of the sperm with the egg is done outside the uterus in laboratory conditions. The embryo is then monitored in laboratory conditions and is transferred inside the uterus. It is one of the most popular and the most effective ways of treating infertility and many couples use IVF to conceive. Within two weeks of implantation, the doctor may perform blood tests to check for pregnancy and if the embryo has implanted or not. Even after a positive result for pregnancy, a chemical pregnancy can occur in such cases. However, couples must not despair over it, as repeated IVF or other assisted reproductive technologies can still help in successful conception and pregnancy.