There are many terms used to describe the various ways that a pregnancy does not reach full term. For many, the term used doesn't change the feeling of loss and the grief that can follow. But, you may want to understand why your doctor refers to a pregnancy loss using different phrases, depending on the circumstances and timeline. Here, we share what it means to have a chemical pregnancy (read more about ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage for further information).
What exactly *is* a chemical pregnancy?
A chemical pregnancy (sometimes called a biochemical pregnancy) is a very early stage miscarriage. It's called chemical because it can be detected via the pregnancy hormone beta-hCG (either through a blood test or a urine test). But the miscarriage happens before the pregnancy can be picked up on an ultrasound, usually within the first five weeks of pregnancy when the embryo stops developing.
How do you know if you've had a chemical pregnancy?
Many people experience a chemical pregnancy without knowing, simply mistaking it for a late and heavy period. This makes it hard to know how common they are. If you suspect you are having a chemical pregnancy, you may be able to confirm by taking a home pregnancy test and picking up he beta HCG hormone.
Can you prevent a chemical pregnancy?
Like many miscarriages, we don't always know why they—or a chemical pregnancy—occurs. And importantly, there is no way to prevent a chemical pregnancy from happening.
Does a chemical pregnancy affect your future fertility?
As a general rule, no. A chemical pregnancies typically resolves quickly on its own. You want to ensure that your beta HCG returns to zero, which you can do with a home pregnancy test (with a negative result indicating that it has). Once this happens, your cycle should return to normal. In fact, a chemical pregnnacy is a known good prognosis for eventual success.
What does a chemical pregnancy indicate?
The fact that you got pregnant proves many things have occurred. For example, you must have ovulated, sperm must have made its way to the egg, there must have been fertilization, an embryo must have grown into a blastocyst and there must have been some implantation.
While these things don't take away the grief associated with this kind of loss, it can be a good sign for your future fertility.