What is a Chemical Pregnancy? (It’s Not What It Sounds Like)


When I first heard the phrase “chemical pregnancy,” my mind immediately jumped to an image of a baby being created synthetically in a lab with chemicals.

“Chemical pregnancy” also sounds like a good name for sci-fi movie or maybe a punk rock band name.

Alas, it’s none of the above.

What is a chemical pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy is essentially a very early miscarriage, generally occurring during the 5th week of gestation (i.e. within the week following your missed period).

If you didn’t know you were pregnant at the time, you would likely attribute it to a late period, as this is what most of the symptoms amount to.

I’m not a doctor and would never claim to be an expert on this subject (so if you think you may be experiencing this and have concerns, please do talk with your doctor), but my wife and I did experience this the very first month we tried to conceive.  We were initially unsure of what this meant for our future conception chances.

I’ll explain further…

Is a Chemical Pregnancy a Bad Thing?

It’s freaky at first, because you have a positive pregnancy test, followed by bleeding. It’s easy to feel like something’s wrong considering you were pregnant for a month, and now you are not.

It’s not to say that there isn’t something wrong, but doctors generally view a chemical pregnancy as a positive sign for the following reasons:

1) Doctors believe that chemical pregnancies happen for the same reasons as most other miscarriages.

In other words, the reason it occurs is likely due to chromosomal abnormalities in the developing baby.  Something’s wrong, and your body is rejecting it.

It’s like you’re throwing away a batch of burnt cookies before anyone gets a chance to taste them.  It’s a good thing.

2) It means you can get pregnant.  

When you consider the number of couples dealing with fertility issues (especially as people are more often waiting until they’re a little bit older to have kids), it’s good to know that both you and your partner are collectively capable of fertilizing an egg without any sort of manual intervention.

My wife and I are in our early 30s, and while that’s not too old to have a child by any means, we’re getting to that age where several of our friends are trying to conceive for the first time and having difficulty.

It’s sad to see, and I can understand how frustrating that must be, especially when you have resort to more advanced procedures (IVF, etc.).

3) It may be more common than you think.

If you find yourself feeling down about a chemical pregnancy, also keep in mind that this isn’t an unusual occurrence.  Depending on age, an estimated 20-40% of pregnancies end as a chemical pregnancy.

You definitely aren’t alone.

As I mentioned before, many women have a late period before ever taking a pregnancy test; it’s quite possible that these situations are chemical pregnancies, unbeknownst to the woman experiencing it.

What About Multiple Chemical Pregnancies?

If you find yourself with multiple chemical pregnancies, you should consider seeing a doctor to investigate further and confirm whether or not an actual problem exists.

From the reading I’ve done, two is generally not a cause for concern, but three or more definitely warrants a discussion with your doctor.

That’s all, folks.

Although aspiring parents would never hope for a chemical pregnancy, it is comforting to know that it’s not all bad.

I remember my wife and I were a little disappointed at first, but once we viewed it as a good sign for our future as parents, we moved on and started trying again.  Although some people prefer to wait a little while after their first chemical pregnancy to start trying again (research supporting this seems to be a little uncertain), we started trying again the very next month and were happy that we did.

And on another note, if there ever is movie with the title “Chemical Pregnancy”… I’ll probably pass on watching it.

What’s your experience been like with chemical pregnancies (if you’ve had one before)? Leave a comment below!

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