What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?

October 21, 2022

It can be an exciting time when an at-home pregnancy test reveals you’re pregnant. But then you test again a few weeks later, and you’re not.

What’s going on?

You could be experiencing what is known as a chemical pregnancy.

This will most likely occur during the first five weeks of pregnancy, and you might not even know you’re pregnant unless you take a highly sensitive test that detects hCG.

Signs of Chemical Pregnancy

The two biggest signs pointing to a chemical pregnancy are a positive pregnancy test followed by getting your period or going in for an ultrasound and your doctors don’t detect a baby.

In a chemical pregnancy, an embryo forms but then stops developing, triggering an early-stage miscarriage and bleeding several days after that. It can be distressing if you’ve had a positive pregnancy test and then start your period.

If you suspect a chemical pregnancy, the next step is to consult your OB-GYN.

Pregnancy tests conducted at a hospital or clinic are more accurate than those done at home and blood work can also be done if needed. 

Does Chemical Pregnancy Mean I Can’t Have a Baby?

Chemical pregnancies and subsequent miscarriages tend to be the result of an experimental merging of genetic material between two parties that results in an error. The body rejects the incompatible group of cells, perhaps due to a genetic abnormailty, but this does not mean this will happen with your next pregnancy. Your next pregnancy with the same partner could be perfectly healthy, as is often the case.

Is It a Chemical Pregnancy or Something Else?

Keep in mind that a positive pregnancy test followed by a negative pregnancy test isn’t always a chemical pregnancy. It could result from several causes.

Other Causes of False Positive Pregnancy Tests

  • Fertility treatments
  • Certain medicines, including
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Seizure medications
  • Diuretics for blood pressure
  • Antihistamines
  • Chemotherapy
  • User error

If you let the test sit too long, the urine dries off and evaporation lines can appear. The directions must be followed exactly. These are specific to each test, which is part of the reason at-home tests can be tricky. Every at-home test has a different reaction time and different user instructions. That said, at-home tests are between 97% and 98% correct.

Recent Miscarriage or Abortion

If you recently had a miscarriage or an abortion, keep in mind that it takes three to four weeks for hormones to balance out and for any pregnancy test to come back negative.

If you suspect the test results are not accurate, you can repeat a pregnancy test in a week. However, the sooner you schedule an appointment with your physician, the better.

How To Move Forward

If your pregnancy test is negative after first testing positive, you should take this time to talk with your OB-GYN about contraception options if you are trying to prevent pregnancy in the future. If you are trying to have a baby, talk with your doctor to create a better plan for your pregnancy. Your OB-GYN can suggest ways that you can maximize your chances of getting pregnant.

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