Mother and Baby

What is a chemical pregnancy?

Section: Pregnancy

A chemical pregnancy is also known as biochemical pregnancy, defined as a very early miscarriage that happens before the 5th week.

From why it happens and how common it is, to the symptoms and how it could be prevented, here is everything you need to know about chemical pregnancies. 

In this article:

What happens during a chemical pregnancy? 

After conception takes place following ovulation, the embryo implants in the womb as normal.

As these miscarriages are so early on in the pregnancy and occur before anything can be seen in the womb, the only evidence confirming the pregnancy is from the pregnancy test

20-30% of all pregnancies experience some bleeding early on in pregnancy and fifty per cent of those won't end in a miscarriage. 

How common is it?

The possibility of having a miscarriage can range from 10-25 per cent. Yet, chemical pregnancies are very common, resulting in 50-60 per cent of first pregnancies. 

The symptoms

  • Lighter or heavier bleeding with or without cramps
  • Clots 

How long does the bleeding last? 

The type of bleeding you may experience completely depends, as it's different for everyone.

It could last for a couple of hours, or you could experience bleeding for up to a week. 

Causes of a chemical pregnancy

Chemical pregnancies occur when the egg becomes fertilised but the implantation hasn't been completed. 

Scientists believe that chemical pregnancies are caused by some form of chromosomal abnormality, which could be down to abnormalities in genes passed down by the father or the mother, poor quality of the egg or the sperm, or an abnormal cell division of the foetus. 

Other causes can be:

  • Infections including chlamydia or syphilis
  • Implantation outside the uterus - ectopic pregnancy 
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Untreated thyroid disease
  • Abnormality in hormone levels
  • Thin uterine lining

Being over the age of 35 also increases the risk of a chemical pregnancy. 

Treatment for a chemical pregnancy

There are no treatments for chemical pregnancies, but there are ways in which your doctor can help you conceive

If you've have had more than one chemical pregnancy, you can find out the reason behind it by having some tests.

If your doctor can find the problem and treat it, this can reduce the risk of having another. 

If your early miscarriage was caused by an infection, doctors can prescribe some antibiotics to clear it up, which would improve your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy.

A chemical pregnancy doesn't mean that you won't ever be able to have a healthy pregnancy. 

Now read:

Ectopic Pregnancy

11 trying to conceive tips the experts want you to know

A couple are suing an IVF clinic after finding out their 'twins' are not genetically related to them


While training as a journalist at the University of Gloucestershire for 3 years, she was nominated for the Best Feature Category at the Midlands Student’s Media Awards this year, and Head of News and Social Media for the university’s radio station, Tone Radio. Ellie has been published by the likes of Heatworld, Heart, Gloucestershire Live, and ITV West Country. 

Related Content