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Female Infertility

Chemical Pregnancy

Many people who have a chemical pregnancy have a healthy pregnancy and baby later

Everyone knows what the term “pregnancy” means, but what about a chemical pregnancy? Most people have a lot of questions when they hear this term. The Austin fertility specialists at Texas Fertility Center are no strangers to it, and they’re all willing to share their knowledge with patients.

What is a chemical pregnancy?

This term refers to a pregnancy loss that occurs before the fifth week of pregnancy. It is essentially a very early miscarriage. An egg and sperm have come together to form an embryo. This embryo may have even started to implant in the uterine lining. However, it stops developing for one reason or another.

Because this type of pregnancy loss occurs so early, many women don’t even realize that they were pregnant to begin with. However, this is often not the case for women who are going through fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Our Austin fertility specialists carefully monitor our patients before, during and after IVF cycles. As a result, IVF patients tend to know quite early that they are pregnant, which means they are more likely to notice if a chemical pregnancy occurs.

For women who aren’t going through fertility treatment, having a positive pregnancy test followed by a negative one a few weeks later can be a sign of early pregnancy loss. Other signs are having a period a week later than usual or having a period after a positive pregnancy test.

How is it different from a clinical pregnancy?

Chemical pregnancy may sound like a cold and clinical term, but the name comes from the chemicals (hormones) that the body produces during pregnancy. During the first five weeks of pregnancy, an embryo produces human chorionic gonadotrophic (hCG) hormone.

A patient’s hCG level is the only indication that a woman is carrying a baby during an early pregnancy. This is because it’s too early to see the developing embryo on an ultrasound.

  • With a clinical pregnancy, the patient’s hCG level rises. Around six to seven weeks, a doctor can pick up the baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound.
  • The patient’s hCG level falls when the embryo stops developing, indicating a chemical pregnancy.

Does this type of pregnancy hurt my chance of conceiving later?

Our Austin fertility specialists know that early pregnancy loss can be just as difficult for patients as a miscarriage that occurs later. As a result, it’s important for patients to take time to process their emotions. Some people may need to grieve, while others might not feel a particular way. Know that there’s no right or wrong way to feel.

Our team is here to provide support during this time. We can also provide a ray of hope. Having this type of pregnancy loss doesn’t mean that you can’t have a healthy baby later. In fact, many people who have had an early miscarriage go on to have a successful pregnancy later. If you’re seeing one of our physicians, our team will work with you to decide on the next step on your path to parenthood.

Contact us to schedule an appointment if you’d like to learn more about treatment options after an early miscarriage.