A chemical pregnancy is an early miscarriage and is fairly common. It occurs when couples detect a positive pregnancy test just immediately before or after a missed period. This is followed by a negative pregnancy test when the couples go in for re-testing.
Chemical pregnancies occur even before the egg has had a chance to properly implant in the uterine lining of the womb. Most women fail to detect a chemical pregnancy because it happens very early. They mistake it for a normal period. Chemical pregnancies are fairly common.
Signs and Symptoms
It becomes very difficult to diagnose a chemical pregnancy because the foetus does not attach to the wall of the uterus. Women don’t usually experience symptoms like tender breasts, nausea and heart burn. Women often suffer from mild abdominal cramping and spotting which they mistake for a normal period.
The causes of a chemical pregnancy are many. Genetic abnormalities within the sperm or the egg are one of the foremost reasons. 50%-60% of first trimester miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. Some infections in the uterus like genital herpes, toxoplasmosis, warts and syphilis may also cause the woman to have a chemical pregnancy. Hormonal insufficiency may also make the woman miscarry.
Treatment of a Chemical Pregnancy
There is no clear cut treatment modality for chemical pregnancy. The doctors should however ascertain that HCG levels are back to normal after the chemical pregnancy has occurred.
Any signs of abnormal abdominal bleeding should be investigated. Severe bleeding could also occur due to an incomplete miscarriage or tissue scarring in the uterine lining. These need prompt medical attention.
Couples need a lot of emotional support during this time. Most women who know that they had conceived and eventually miscarried may feel tremendous pain and grief. The joy and elation of being pregnant is soon followed by a slump in energy, sadness and depression. It may be necessary to do some couples counselling.
Chemical pregnancies are not potentially dangerous and most women go on to have perfectly normal and healthy pregnancies.
Repeated chemical pregnancies need a thorough investigation. Women who experience more than two chemical pregnancies may need intensive genetic screening to rule out chromosomal abnormalities. This is also true for the man.
Men and women should not be in a hurry to conceive after they have had a chemical pregnancy. Ideally couples should wait for at least a year before trying again. This is done primarily to help the body to recover from the chemical pregnancy.
Chemical pregnancies are known to increase with maternal age so it makes sense for women to plan for their first child during their most fertile child-bearing years. This will reduce their chances of a chemical pregnancy.
Practitioners recommend women to follow a good lifestyle of exercise and eating well to increase their chances of a future pregnancy. Alcohol, smoking and drugs should be banned. Pre-natal vitamins like folic acid should be started well before conception. This increases the woman’s chances of having a normal pregnancy without any complications.