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

  • A photograph of Faye and her husband and two children


    Taking part in a research trial gave us hope after 3 heart-breaking miscarriages

    After giving birth to her son Noah in 2012, Faye and her husband Dean had 3 miscarriages. In 2015, Faye took part in the PRISM trial led by researchers at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research. Her daughter Leila was born in 2016.

  • A man, woman, girl and baby sat smiling in a photo studio


    We will never stop being grateful to Tommy’s for giving us hope

    Roslyn and Paul from South Ayrshire in Scotland had an early miscarriage before getting pregnant with their first daughter Ava who is now 4 years old. They went on to lose another 3 babies before getting a referral to Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at University Hospital in Coventry. Their second daughter, Ciara, was born in April 2019 and is now 7 months old.

  • Matt Verrell and his family


    We will never forget those we have lost

    Neither of us had ever contemplated miscarriage - it simply wasn’t in our thoughts. Yes we’d of course heard of it, but we never for one moment thought it would happen to us.

  • A man, woman and child smiling as they lean over a cot with a new born baby


    Without Tommy’s, I don’t think we’d be where we are today

    Danielle and her husband Paul experienced a missed miscarriage before their first daughter Eva, 5, was born. They had 3 more heartbreaking losses before self-referring to Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Birmingham Women’s Hospital. Danielle gave birth to baby Louie in July 2019.

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 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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