When Is a Miscarriage Considered a Chemical Pregnancy?

Question: Up to How Many Weeks Is a Miscarriage Considered a Chemical Pregnancy?

Answer:

A chemical pregnancy is a confusing term for an early miscarriage in which the pregnancy stops developing before an ultrasound would show a gestational sac, thus meaning that the pregnancy can only be proven by checking hCG levels.

In a normally developing pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound would show a gestational sac by about 5 weeks after the last menstrual period, assuming a 28-day cycle.

So, pregnancies that stop developing before about 5 weeks of gestational age would be considered chemical pregnancies. It is possible for a chemical pregnancy to draw out slightly longer than 5 weeks, however, if the pregnancy has stopped developing but the miscarriage bleeding doesn't begin right away.

Source:

Pagidas, Kelly and Lucia Larson. Medical Care of the Pregnant Patient. ACP Press, 2007. Accessed 1 Dec 2008

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