Chemical pregnancy - information and support

A chemical pregnancy is when a pregnancy ends in miscarriage before five weeks of pregnancy.

What is a chemical pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy is a very early miscarriage. It is diagnosed when a pregnancy is confirmed by a blood test or a home pregnancy test, but it can’t be seen on an ultrasound scan – usually up until about 5 weeks of pregnancy.

How is a chemical pregnancy diagnosed?

Sometimes women have a positive blood test or pregnancy test, but start bleeding shortly afterwards. In this case, they may have more blood tests to find out what’s happening. Sometimes blood tests aren’t done because a pregnancy test may be negative after just a few days.

If bloods are taken and show that the pregnancy hormones are decreasing rather than increasing, a woman will be diagnosed as miscarrying a chemical pregnancy.

If you have any bleeding during your pregnancy, with or without pain, it’s very important to get it checked out.

What causes a chemical pregnancy?

We believe that chemical pregnancies happen because of chromosomal problems with the developing baby. Chromosomes are block of DNA, which contain instructions for your baby’s development.

Sometimes something can go wrong at the point when you get pregnant and the baby gets too many or not enough chromosomes. If this happens, the baby can’t develop properly.

What is the treatment for a chemical pregnancy loss?

As many women don’t even find out that they’re pregnant until after five weeks, the loss of a chemical pregnancy may be mistaken for a normal period, or a late period.

Even if you’ve had a positive pregnancy test, the bleed will be like a normal period, or may even be lighter than normal. You may also have stomach cramps.

These miscarriages happen at such an early stage that they generally resolve naturally and you will recover quickly. You may be able to try again for a baby straight away if you want to, but your doctor will usually recommend waiting until after your next period.

Find out more about trying again after a miscarriage.

It can be hard to recover from a miscarriage. No matter when in your pregnancy you miscarry, you may need support to help you come to terms with what’s happened. Tommy’s is here to help you. You can talk to a Tommy’s midwife for free, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. You can call them on 0800 0147 800 or email [email protected]

You can read more information about coping after a miscarriage and stories from other people who have also experienced an early miscarriage.


Read miscarriage stories

  • Story

    Maybehood - not knowing if I'll ever become a mother

    Annabel is a writer and Bristolian living in South East London with her husband. They've been trying to start a family for 8 years having sadly lost their first baby, conceived through NHS IVF, at 12 weeks. 6 subsequent cycles, 5 miscarriages and 4 years later, Annabel finds herself in what she describes as 'maybehood' – not knowing if she will ever become a mother.

  • Rebekah was filled with questions after her son Freddie was stillborn


    Finding support and mental well-being after baby loss

    In this blog, Rebekah opens up about how pregnancy complications and baby loss affected her mental health, having been diagnosed with PTSD after an early miscarriage and the stillbirth of her son Freddie.

  • Helen and Rick with rainbow baby Parker thanks to Tommy's miscarriage clinic


    The darker the storm, the brighter the rainbow

    Helen and Rick had a long and difficult journey to parenthood, with several rounds of fertility treatment and a heart-breaking late miscarriage before their rainbow baby Parker arrived at Tommy’s Birmingham clinic.

  • James


    I was consumed by guilt that I hadn't undergone the physical pain she had

    James and his wife have sadly lost four babies since they started trying to conceive in 2017. In this blog, James reflects on miscarriage from a partner’s perspective, and the complex emotions that Father’s Day stirs up when grieving your children.

Read more about our miscarriage research

    Last reviewed on March 13th, 2020. Next review date March 13th, 2023.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Georgia gess (not verified) on 19 Apr 2020 - 09:45

      Had fet again with donor embryos , very good quality, but get I get a faint line which disappear after a few days
      Feeling very low and being trying for years now , I live in Essex , but my Clinc is care fertility in bath , and help would be much appreciated

    • By bhavna (not verified) on 26 Feb 2019 - 09:37

      Honest and helpful!. Love it, so much helpful health information every week, you think you might have or you think you might get in the future. Honestly, if you are concerned about YOU you must read these wonderful insightful articles in tommys. Best pregnancy website.

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