The biochemical pregnancy

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Biochemical pregnancy

Some strange sensation, maybe a very small delay and the thought immediately runs there, at the possibility of being pregnant. It can happen that a pregnancy test confirms but that, a few days later, menstruation arrives.





That's what it's called biochemical pregnancy: a pregnancy that actually started - so much so that it was identified with a simple biochemical test - but which ended very soon. In other words, a very early miscarriage, even before 5 weeks, when often the woman has not yet realized that she is pregnant.

Read also: Miscarriage: False Beliefs That Are Bad for Women

In this article

  • Symptoms,
  • Why is it called that,
  • Frequency,
  • Cause,
  • How is it done?
  • Experiences.

What are the symptoms of biochemical pregnancy

Often the woman experiencing a biochemical pregnancy he doesn't even notice: your period comes before you even suspect you are pregnant. Because of this, there are no particular symptoms.



The only obvious sign is a positive pregnancy test followed byarrival of menstruation, and to which anyway an ultrasound finding does not correspond of pregnancy. An ultrasound scan therefore does not reveal any embryos and, often, not even the presence of a gestational chamber.

Why is it called that

Even though it stopped very soon, the pregnancy has begun and this means that there has begun to circulate in the maternal organism beta-HCG (chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone produced by the first hint of the embryo's placenta.



Already a few days after conception, this hormone can be detected with simple tests: from the classic do-it-yourself pregnancy test to the dosage of beta-HCG in the blood.

Therefore, there is a biochemical trace of the pregnancy, even if the arrival of menstruation and the ultrasound scan say that there is no embryo.

How common is biochemical pregnancy?

Giving precise figures on the frequency of this phenomenon is not easy, because often the woman does not even realize that there has been a conception which was not followed by a clinical pregnancy (with a viable embryo).

However, various studies suggest that this is by no means a rare event: it seems that one to three out of four pregnancies end before the woman realizes she is pregnant.

Today it has become easier to study this event, in the context of medically assisted procreation (MAP) techniques, which generally involve a very early dosage of beta-HCG.

The causes

They are in fact the same as for spontaneous abortion, in particular fetal chromosomal abnormalities o anatomical abnormalities of the uterus.

Importantly, biochemical pregnancy it has no impact on future fertility, that is, on the possibility of becoming pregnant again and being able to carry a pregnancy to term.

How we intervene

In general, absolutely nothing is done. At best, it may be worthwhile to monitor beta-HCG levels to make sure they drop, thus ruling out the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

The psychological consequences

But be careful: if from a physical point of view the biochemical pregnancy leaves no consequences, from a psychological point of view there could be negative repercussions. In fact, women who are expecting a child (and who are perhaps following a path of MAP) can live very badly the dry denial of what had just been announced as a pregnancy.

In these cases, it is important to know that there is no right or wrong way to experience one's emotions: even experiencing and manifesting suffering is lawful and "normal". As it is legitimate and normal to seek psychological support, if desired.

Sources for this article

  • Articolo scientifico Biochemical Pregnancy During Assisted Conception: A Little Bit Pregnant;
  • Serono Foundation Glossary;
  • Articolo scientifico Conception to ongoing pregnancy: the 'black box' of early pregnancy loss.
Read also: Extrauterine pregnancy: causes, symptoms, therapies and consequences

Questions and answers

What is biochemical pregnancy? 

It may happen that a simple test confirms a pregnancy, but a few days later, menstruation arrives. It is what is called a biochemical pregnancy: a pregnancy that actually started - so much so that it was identified with a simple biochemical test - but that ended very soon. In other words, a very early miscarriage, even before 5 weeks.

What are the symptoms of biochemical pregnancy? 

There are no particular symptoms. The only evident sign is a positive pregnancy test followed by the arrival of menstruation, and which, however, does not correspond to an ultrasound confirmation of the pregnancy.

What is the intervention in the case of biochemical pregnancy? 

In general, absolutely nothing is done. At best, it may be worthwhile to monitor beta-HCG levels to make sure they drop, thus ruling out the risk of ectopic pregnancy. In these cases, if from a physical point of view there are no consequences, from a psychological point of view there can be repercussions. It is important to know that there is no right or wrong way to experience one's emotions and that experiencing and manifesting suffering is also lawful and "normal". As it is legitimate and normal to seek psychological support, if desired.

Biochemical Pregnancy: Experiences and Testimonials

The long road to having Francesco

In December 2022, I got pregnant. I had stopped taking inositol supplements, taking my basal temperature, taking ovulation tests. I had also undergone laparoscopic surgery.

Two miscarriages. But finally my second son arrived, healthy and beautiful

I am an only child and have always been affected by it. This is also why I wanted to give my eldest son Nichi a little brother or sister. Unfortunately, before getting pregnant for the second time, I had two miscarriages. I have been very ill. Eventually, though, my second little one arrived. On February 2nd of this year Loris was born, my rainbow, the brother I never had.

After 10 years of trying she is finally pregnant!

Hi I'm the mother of a wonderful 18 month old baby ... and if you like to read it I would like to tell you my story. He is our little miracle! It all started back in 1997. I was operated on to make a diagnosis as I had been having pain in my abdomen for months and it was not clear why. Result: bilateral sactosalpinx, that is, tubal severely compromised. The gynecologist told me: "Madam, his tubes have withered.

Read also: Biochemical Pregnancy: Experiences

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  • biochemical pregnancy
  • termination of pregnancy
  • early abortion
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