Biochemical pregnancy: what it is, what are the causes and what are the signs

A biochemical pregnancy (also called chemical pregnancy) consists of an early, miscarriage that occurs shortly after implantation, even before the woman knows she is pregnant.

By examining the blood, the doctor can confirm the chemical pregnancy.

Biochemical pregnancies can account for 50 to 75% of all miscarriages.

Biochemical pregnancies occur even before an ultrasound can detect the existence of the embryo, but after a pregnancy test can detect elevated levels of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (also known as hCG, Human chorionic gonadotropin) the pregnancy hormone that the embryo produces after implantation (the increase in the level of hcg in urine, blood and saliva is the first “signal” of an ongoing pregnancy that you yourself can verify from your home by means of a pregnancy test).

Of course, having a miscarriage just one or two weeks after a positive pregnancy test can be a devastating experience.

The signs of chemical pregnancy

A biochemical pregnancy may have no signals; Some women have an early miscarriage without even realizing they are pregnant because they haven’t taken the test.

For women who have symptoms, these may consist of menstrual stomach cramps and vaginal bleeding, symptoms that occur even a few days after obtaining a positive pregnancy test result.

It is important to note though, that after a positive pregnancy test, bleeding is not necessarily always indicative of a biochemical pregnancy.

In fact, bleeding is a common occurrence even during implantation, that is, when the embryo nests in the uterus: this implantation process can break or damage the small blood vessels along the uterine lining, resulting in the release of blood.

Spotting often appears as a pinkish or brown leak. This can occur 10-14 days after conception.

A chemical pregnancy usually doesn’t last long enough to cause those symptoms that are usually related to pregnancy, such as nausea and fatigue.

In fact, this type of abortion differs from other abortions that can occur at any time during a pregnancy, although they are more common before the twentieth week.

A biochemical pregnancy, on the other hand, always occurs shortly after implantation.

Since most of the time her only symptoms are cramping and bleeding, some women simply think they have their period.

The causes of miscarriage

The exact cause of a chemical pregnancy is unknown, but in most cases it is due to embryo-related problems, probably caused by low sperm or egg quality.

Other causes may be due,

  • abnormal hormone levels,
  • to uterine abnormalities,
  • implantation outside the uterus,
  • to infections such as chlamydia or syphilis.

Being over 35 increases the risk of a biochemical pregnancy.

As well as some medical problems, including problems related to blood clotting and thyroid disorders.

What happens after miscarriage

First. Having a chemical pregnancy does not necessarily mean that the woman is no longer able to conceive, and that she cannot arrive at birth without problems.

Then, although there is no specific treatment for this type of abortion, there are some options that serve to help you conceive again.

  • If you’ve had more than one chemical pregnancy, your doctor may perform tests to diagnose possible underlying causes.
  • If your doctor pinpoints and can treat the cause, there will be a reduced risk of developing another chemical pregnancy.

High levels of hCG in the absence of pregnancy: possible scenarios

Chemical pregnancy is not the only condition that causes the body to produce the pregnancy hormone (hCG).

With regard to the elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), these can also occur with an ectopic pregnancy: they can occur when the implantation of the fertilized oocyte does not take place in the uterine cavity and occurs when the egg nests outside the uterus.

Since an ectopic pregnancy can simulate/mimic a chemical pregnancy, the doctor will perform special tests to rule out this condition.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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