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Chemical Pregnancy Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated May 13, 2022

    Chemical Pregnancy Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

    A chemical pregnancy is something that not a lot of people are aware of, even if they are fairly common. But what exactly is a chemical pregnancy? Read on to find out about chemical pregnancy symptoms, what causes it, and if it can be prevented.

    What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?

    The term “chemical pregnancy” is actually a bit of a misnomer. This is because it refers to a miscarriage that happens very early on in pregnancy. It typically happens during the first few weeks after conception, typically before the 5th week1.

    Basically, what happens is that the egg gets fertilized by the sperm cell, but for one reason or another, the pregnancy doesn’t go through. These types of miscarriages are also common, and some women might not even be aware that it has already happened to them.

    Another important thing to know about a chemical pregnancy is that it is actually not viable. An expectant mother can experience the early symptoms of pregnancy, and even test positive for a pregnancy test if they have a chemical pregnancy2. However, the pregnancy will never push through.

    What Are the Possible Causes?

    There are a number of possible reasons why a chemical pregnancy happens3.

    The first reason could be due to a chromosomal abnormality. What this means is that during the formation of the fetus, there are certain irregularities in the fetal DNA. This could affect the genetic information responsible for the healthy development of a fetus; so if there is an abnormality, the pregnancy can sometimes not push through.

    Another possibility is that the woman might not have enough of the maternal hormones necessary for pregnancy. If this is the case, then a miscarriage or a chemical pregnancy can also happen.

    The third reason for a chemical pregnancy is that the fetus might not be properly implanted in the uterus. Proper implantation is essential since this allows the fetus to receive nutrients and oxygen from the mother. If the implantation doesn’t happen correctly, then the fetus won’t develop normally and a miscarriage can happen.

    Having a low body mass index or BMI can also be a factor when it comes to a chemical pregnancy. Based on what we know, mothers with a low BMI or lower than normal weight for their height, can experience a higher risk of miscarriage during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

    Chemical Pregnancy Symptoms

    Chemical pregnancy symptoms aren’t always easy to identify. This is because it’s possible for a mother to not even be aware that it has happened, since it happens very early during the pregnancy. However, there are certain symptoms that can be a sign of a miscarriage:

  • Bleeding or spotting that is outside your normal period
  • Testing positive for a pregnancy test, but the pregnancy doesn’t go through
  • Lower back or abdominal pain that can be similar or even worse than menstrual cramps
  • Experiencing the signs of pregnancy, which then suddenly stop
  • If you and your partner are trying to have a child, and you experience any of the symptoms above, its possible that you might have had a miscarriage. If it happens frequently, then it would be a good idea to visit your doctor to figure out what you can do in order to conceive and truly push through with the pregnancy.

    Can It Be Prevented?

    Sadly, there is no sure fire way to prevent a chemical pregnancy. These things can happen for no reason, even if the mother is perfectly healthy and ready to become pregnant.

    Regardless, staying healthy, eating right, and making sure that you avoid alcohol and smoking can increase the chances of a healthier pregnancy. It’s a good idea to keep these things in mind if you wish to become pregnant.

    Learn more about Pregnancy Complications here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated May 13, 2022

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