Trying to conceive after pregnancy loss can trigger a wave of emotions and thoughts of what could have been. If you’re thinking about trying again after experiencing loss, make sure you’re feeling up for it and that you have the support system you need. It can take time to heal and feel ready. Be gentle with yourself.
Thankfully, 85% of women who’ve experienced one miscarriage will go on to have a successful pregnancy the next time, as will 75% of women who’ve had two or three miscarriages.
In this article, we’ll talk about a type of miscarriage that can happen very early in pregnancy, often called a chemical pregnancy, and what to know about trying to conceive after one.
What is a chemical pregnancy
A chemical pregnancy, also called a biochemical pregnancy or biochemical loss, is a pregnancy that results in early miscarriage, shortly after implantation. This type of loss accounts for up to 33% of all pregnancies and 18-22% of IVF pregnancies. And because it happens so early in pregnancy, many people may not even know that they have conceived when they realize there’s a problem. Bleeding from a chemical pregnancy often occurs around the time of an expected menstrual period.
Signs of a chemical pregnancy include:
- Mild abdominal cramping
- A positive pregnancy test that quickly turns negative
- Vaginal bleeding after a positive pregnancy test
- Low hCG levels on a pregnancy blood test
Many times, chemical pregnancies and early miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo. Many of these abnormalities occur randomly as the embryo divides and grows. It’s estimated that problems with the baby’s chromosomes are responsible for 50% of early pregnancy loss. Being 35 or older, having untreated blood clotting or thyroid disorders, and other medical conditions like uncontrolled diabetes, can increase risk as well.
It can be heartbreaking to receive a positive pregnancy test and then experience a loss so quickly afterwards. Give yourself time to heal both physically and emotionally before trying to conceive again. Some people may find talking to others who’ve had early miscarriages helps and makes them feel less alone. Others may not be ready to talk about it and that’s ok too.
Trying to conceive after a chemical pregnancy
Generally it’s a good idea to wait at least 2 weeks after a chemical pregnancy to have vaginal intercourse again to prevent the risk of infection. There is typically no treatment needed, so once you’ve waited the two weeks, given yourself some time to heal, and you feel ready to start trying to conceive again, you should be able to. That said, it’s always a good idea to talk to your provider if you have questions.
If you decide you don’t want to start trying to conceive right away, keep in mind you can still ovulate 2 weeks after the chemical pregnancy, so you may want to have a birth control method in place. Talk to your healthcare provider for guidance on when to start trying to conceive again.
If you’ve only had one chemical pregnancy and no previous issues with fertility or trouble getting pregnant, it’s usually not necessary to see a specialist at this point. However, you may want to consider seeing a specialist in certain scenarios, such as if you:
- Are over age 35
- Have had 2 or more miscarriages
- Have experienced fertility problems
- Have an illness that could affect your pregnancy (e.g. high blood pressure or diabetes)
Because a chemical pregnancy happens so early on, some people may find they move on rather quickly, while others may take longer to recover. There is no right or wrong way to grieve a pregnancy loss. Just know that your chances of having a subsequent successful pregnancy are high, about 80% after one miscarriage. And you can always reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance and support.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
“Signs of miscarriage.” American Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. n.d. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/signs-of-miscarriage/.
“Chemical pregnancy.” Miscarriage Association. Miscarriage Association. n.d. https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/information/miscarriage/chemical-pregnancy/.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Pregnancy after miscarriage: What you need to know.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. March 12, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/pregnancy-after-miscarriage/art-20044134.
“Pregnancy after miscarriage.” American Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. n.d. https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/pregnancy-loss/pregnancy-after-miscarriage/.