What Causes Chemical Pregnancies? Science Explains

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When a pregnancy ends unexpectedly, it’s devastating. It’s been described as watching hope just flow from your body as though it’s the normal course of events — nothing more than a biological mechanism. But to the mother, it can incite a full range of emotions. Sometimes, this loss happens very early in pregnancy. You might’ve only just found out you’re pregnant, and your period might only be a few days late. This early pregnancy loss is called a chemical pregnancy. But, what causes a chemical pregnancy? How is it different from other miscarriages?

A chemical pregnancy is a specific type of early pregnancy loss that happens before an ultrasound could be used to detect a yolk sac, but after hCG, the pregnancy hormone, is detectable in the blood and urine, according to The Motherhood Initiative. Chemical pregnancies occur somewhere between implantation and seven weeks of gestation, meaning many women may not realize they were ever pregnant to begin with because of how early it happens. 50 to 75 percent of all miscarriages are technically considered chemical pregnancies. There are myriad possible causes for chemical pregnancy, from hormonal abnormalities, blood clotting problems, anatomic abnormalities in the fetus and developing placenta, and even advanced paternal age, noted Seminars in Reproductive Medicine.

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When a pregnancy ends early, the reason is often unknown and that’s frustrating for both mothers and medical providers. However, since 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, it’s not considered uncommon or grounds for further inquiry, according to the University of California. Two or more miscarriages in a row is very unlikely, and recurrent miscarriages are considered rare by their standards. Experiencing a…

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