Signs You Could Have A Chemical Pregnancy

Few things can rock your world quite like a positive pregnancy test. It's your first indicator that your life could be changing in a very big way. But for those who have experienced a chemical pregnancy, a positive pregnancy test was as far as it went. Others, still, may have had their pregnancy come and go without even realizing it.

"Chemical pregnancy" is the term used for a miscarriage that occurs within the first five weeks of pregnancy (per Cleveland Clinic). This is different from a clinical pregnancy in which an embryo forms, attaches to the uterus, and continues to develop — during a chemical pregnancy the embryo forms, and may even attach to the uterus, but it stops producing the human chorionic gonadotrophic (hCG) hormones that allow it to grow. Chemical pregnancies are named as such because — as they end too early in the pregnancy for an ultrasound machine to ever see the embryo — the only sign of pregnancy is the presence of hCG. However, once the embryo stops producing the hormone, the pregnancy will end and a miscarriage will follow. Oftentimes, before you even noticed the change.

Symptoms of chemical pregnancy

Because chemical pregnancies typically end before any early pregnancy symptoms begin to arise, it can be hard to tell that they happened at all. Unless, of course, you took a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests work by detecting the presence of hCG (per National Health Service). When hCG is present, you will get a positive result, whereas when hCG is absent, the test will read as negative. One of the signs that you may have had a chemical pregnancy is a positive pregnancy test quickly followed by your period or a subsequent negative test result within the next few weeks (per Miscarriage Association).

While it's impossible to know if you did, in fact, have a chemical pregnancy without taking a pregnancy test, another sign that you may have been pregnant is if your period comes a week later than usual (per Cleveland Clinic). Oftentimes, the period that comes after a chemical pregnancy can feel heavier than your normal period, and involve more cramping than you usually experience. However, some people may not notice any changes to their period at all.

While there's no way to treat or prevent chemical miscarriages, it's worth mentioning that chemical pregnancies are usually caused by a chromosomal abnormality within the fetus and are not an indication that you can't have a normal pregnancy going forward.