The Dreaded Biochemical Pregnancy

Here I will tell of a typical story about a woman who has been suffering from infertility, and finally becomes pregnant. After the relief of a positive pregnancy test her doctor repeats the test and says, “Well Lisa, it looks like your pregnancy is biochemical”.
Now I can’t completely describe what Lisa is saying to herself, but it’s probably something like this.
“What is he talking about? A biochemical pregnancy? Did I get pregnant? Am I pregnant? Biochemical? It’s bad enough I have felt like a science experiment, now I’m biochemical?”
Let me try to straighten this out. The definition of a biochemical pregnancy is a pregnancy that stops growing before it is large enough to be seen on ultrasound. It’s a very early miscarriage. The causes are the same as for any miscarriage. By far, the most common reason is that the embryo is genetically abnormal, that is it doesn’t have the right number of chromosomes. And although it has the tools to grow for a while, as the embryo grows and needs to become more complex, the tools run out and the embryo can grow no more. There are other causes of miscarriage and that will be topic of a later blog.
The word “biochemical pregnancy” is a terrible term. It’s very cold and scientific and inhumane. I try not to use it, I just say it’s a very early loss. I thing the fertility community should throw out the word. I’m going to ask them if they will.

37 responses to “The Dreaded Biochemical Pregnancy”

  1. Anonymous says:

    After yrs of infertility treatments, we finally went with an egg donor. We were told she was someone who had donated previously and 3 of 3 recipients had successful pregnancies.

    Our fresh cycle (2 excellent quality embryos transferred on Day 3) resulted in a positive pregnancy test, but the HCG level failed to rise sufficiently, and we were told we’d had an early pregnancy loss. Meds were stopped and I got my period. The docs had no explanation other than that “this just happens sometimes”. My lining and levels had looked fine all along.

    After my period another saline sono was done. Things looked normal so we were advised to just proceed with our frozen embryos (we had been lucky enough to have 2 frozen).

    We proceeded, and everything went along fine. Both 5-day embryos survived the thaw and were transferred back to me. But the same thing has now happened again – my first preg test was beta=71 and my second 2 days later is 42. So this is another loss.

    I am heartbroken and searching for some explanation as to why these random and rare occurrences should happen twice to me, when other women got pregnant from the same donor. Are there any theories about these being some kind of rejections or immune responses? Is there something we can look for to explain this, so we can perhaps do better the next time? We really cannot afford to even try again, and if I am a person who for some reason is prone to having these types of losses, I really could not justify trying again.

  2. francesca says:

    i am very sorry to hear of your loss as me and my husband have just suffered the same thing.we were told our embryos were of excellent quality and should progress into a normal pregnancy,however this has not happened and we are both devastated.i truly hope you get what you want in the end and that everything goes well for yourselves.

  3. Anonymous says:

    We are so grateful that we fond this blog entry, it really gave us the understanding we needed to accept our loss. Although my husband is a doctor, we never heard of this term before so we did a lot of research about what my gynecologist described as a possible ‘Biochemical Pregnancy’ all we found were very cold, mostly technical answers.

    After 2 years of TTC and 4 rounds of IUI, two days ago we found out I had finally become pregnant. But only a few hours later I started experiencing cramps, back pain and finally some bleeding. After the initial positive test we continued using home pregnancy test for the next 2 days only to get positive results every time. Yesterday my bleeding increased a little and finally this morning the home pregnancy test came up negative. That’s when we went looking for answers and found yours.

    Thank you so much!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Because I am 43, my husband and I initially chose to use an egg donor to try to achieve a pregnancy. My biological son from a previous marriage was born 10 years ago, and I had a healthy pregnancy with him.

    I understand how devastating it is to be informed that you have a positive pregnancy test with a very low beta hcg level. This has happened to us twice. For our first cycle, we used donor eggs that developed into just 4 poor quality embryos. We transferred all 4, and had a “positive” pregnancy test with a level of 15 that decreased within a few days.

    We recently used a new donor, which resulted in eleven excellent quality embryos. We transferred two “A” quality embryos on Day 5, and put the remaining nine in storage. Again, our pregnancy test came back with another low level of 6. We were dumbfounded as to how this could have happened to us twice. My hormone levels and uterine lining were fine during both cycles, and just prior to each transfer. We would like to do a cycle with our frozen embryos, but we are totally gun-shy at this point that we will have yet another biochemical pregnancy. Perhaps we should try to transfer three or four embryos next time to see if that would produce better results. My heart goes out to all of you that have a similar experience. I understand firsthand how devastating it is. I have found very little information on the internet with regard to causes of biochemical pregnancies. I welcome feedback that anyone might have.

  5. dijana says:

    I can just say that I am sorry for your lost ;(
    I had similar problem, and find out that I have immunology problems. If you need more information regarding Reproductive immunology you can visit Dr. Beer’s web site and find some answers.

    Good luck 😉

  6. Anonymous says:

    Lisa says My 21 year old daughter found out that she was pregnant and after a week she also started bleeding. Her doctor was not very helpful and didn’t explain it to her very well. She was told that she was never pregnant and that her body was playing a cruel joke on her. I was glad that I found this website and I am sorry for your loss

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello everyone,

    I have been facing this infertility issuse for the past 3 years now. Changed doctors in USA. Met with two doctors in India. Underwent several tests, three unsuccessful IUI’s, one unsuccessful IVF, and one biochemical pregancy (was conceived on our own withouht any IVF). I feel hollow and sad but am not giving up. I am tired of puttig my body thru all these tests and nothing seems to work. We are thinking of adopting a baby.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ugh…this just happened to us…went through years of tx only to go to a donor who had given 3 times and we got 17 embryos, we tranfered two (rated 3AA) and froze the rest…1st test comes back with 32, then 68, then 11. Dr wants a re-test so we did it again and now 8…dr still wanted wife to stay on the meds, but we said no (obvious chemical pregnancy)…will proceed with a frozen cycle, but I’m losing faith in the practice…perhaps they are missing something…

  9. Anonymous says:

    I just found out today that I have a possible biochemical preg. I’m 42, just went through my first IVF. Yesterday, my Hcg was 26, today it’s like 8. Doc told me to stop the meds. It’s a sad day.

  10. Muffy says:

    Last November, my period was late for 2 weeks. Doctors ran urine tests that came back negative. I was moving to a new home at that time, so they assumed it was the stress of moving. I’ve been trying for a baby, so my embryologist ran a blood test and my hcg levels were at 36. 5 days later, it dropped to 11. It was one of the saddest things that ever happened to me. My embryologist speculated that it probably failed because it failed to implant (I tend to hvae thinner lining). Which technically means I could have saved it if I’d found out earlier.

    Now, I do not trust HPT. Go for blood test, always. (Even if all the nurses look at you like you’re nuts)

  11. lucylu866 says:

    i had 3 fresh and 2 frozen so fay i was pregnant once didnt make it to the heartbeat i had 2 biochemical pregnancies after just transferrng 4 embryos i am dong last frozen cycle of 3 cant afford any more so heart broken i wish there was somebody out there that would donate there services for people that cant afford it that want a baby so bad

  12. Anonymous says:

    LucyLu. I dont’ see what date this was posted, but hopefully you will see this answer. You should look up embryo donation. This is a way that you can use frozen embryos that other familys have donated. It is still not cheap, but is much cheaper than another IVF cycle. Please look it up…it may help you get the baby you want.
    I too have just found out that our second IVF cycle is a biochemical pregnancy, although I prefer the term ‘early loss’ that I have found on this site. I too am devastated. This was our last two embryos from a donor cycle. I am 44 so not going to try with my own eggs. I am interested to know if any of you had genetic testing done on the eggs before hand to determine quality? We did not and am wondering if we should do this next time? Alison

  13. Anonymous says:

    i just miscarried again last week its horrible especially with the holdays whatever joy i had left its all gone. no east coast fertility doesnt do genetic testing
    they say i make quantity not quality all i had done was blood work and a lapinoscopy so you miscarried on donor eggs not yours? if so where did you get them did you do donor program at your fertility clinic so sorry for your loss. let me know also i was told. lovenox helps and yes t can be something with the immune system i am gong to a nother place for a second opinion before do anything.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hello, thank you for this blog. I just found out on Friday that we suffered a “biochemical pregnancy” and have now lost our baby. It has been devastating. We were overjoyed after our 2nd round of IVF and finding out that we had a positive pregnancy test. I am 40yrs old and I know that each cycle brings with it greater risk. What a joy to find out that our second IVF cycle was successful to only find out that we had an early loss. I am at a complete loss. I feel like my hopes and dreams for a family have been stolen away. We had to pay for our treatment out of pocket because our military insurance did not cover any of the costs. We took our life savings and paid for two cycles but the joy of a pregnancy would have been more than worth the costs. It didn’t turn out that way and now I don’t know what to do. I don’t feel like seeing anyone or talking to anyone. Christmas is a wash. Honestly, I feel mad at God for such a cruel joke. I still am thankful for the life that He has given me and the great husband, etc. I am just wondering why He won’t allow us to have children?

  15. Anonymous says:

    i know i feel the same way i have been angry to sad i wish christmas wasnt here to make matters worse we have friends that thought it would be fun to have a baby with us they already have 3 kids to them it was a competition they went thru 6 inseminations to them that was alot they ave no idea there pregnant and where not they are very hurtful i wont talk to them anymore . i blamed god to i dont know what to say im sorry for you to. im here if you want to talk christmas is a wash for us to

  16. Anonymous says:

    to allison i hope i answered your question
    lucy lu

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your blog posting. I have just suffered a ‘biochemical pregnancy’. But to me, I have just lost a child that was growing inside me and with it a lot of hope, too. Your post made me feel like I was part of the human race still. My doctor’s clumsy phrases and curt use of the term ‘biochemical’ made me feel inhuman.
    I hope all women who are sad and made to feel different because they have difficulties conceiving realise that they are special & are god’s children too. We need more male doctors like you who are sensitive to this heartbreak.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Although this is a very sad topic, I truly found comfort in getting some form of understanding as to what all of this means.

    As everyone else who has posted, I’ve expereienced the same results. In November my beta hCG was 118 and then dropped (to a number I can’t remember), and as many experienced, I was told to stop all meds.

    Two weeks ago, we tried again using our frozen 5 day embryos and had another positive with an hCG of 131. I felt really good about the results and was positive that this was going to work out this time. Next preg test was 102. I gues what hurt the most was feeling like I had to watch and wait for my baby to die inside of me because even at 102 that would and was showing up on my home pregnacy test.

    Because of this blog, and the testimonies, I will contiue the fight and keep trying. The doctors are going to test the existing eggs. And although we have 3 more 5-day blast left, we’re going to test and use the unfertilized eggs first and check the genetic quailty.

    My heart goes out to all of you and please find comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Some blamed and wanted to curse God and I totally know how and why you would feel that way. However, remeber, that God will never put more on you than you can bare and that HE is not the author of the struggle that we face. The devil is busy and tries to steal, kill, and destroy anything that he can put his hands on. Please don’t turn your back on God now…if anything, we must contine to press forward and keep your eyes focused on him. Because your story and my story will one day be our testimony to many like us.

    If there’s anyone out there, it would really be encouraging to all of us to share your story of bio-chemical pregnacies and of how you now have a child or are pregnant about to have a baby after experiencing a loss.

    However, ladies stay tuned…I refused to give up and I’ll be back with good news soon!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hello…. Can ypou please help me about this biochemical pregnancy or early loss? My hcg was 42,8 on the 12th day after the IVF, then 14th day it was 43,8.. on the 15th day it was 20,5.. 18th day 7.. but today on the 22nd day it was 17,5 again.. Is it a biochemical pregnancy? I am waiting for your help and answers, ideas.. Thanks a lot…I2m really worried about it.. The doctor will have a look on the 24th day…

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hi I don’t know how old these blogs are but, I found out 2 days ago that I was pregnant. Then yesterday My bloods came back abd my rate (whatever that is) was 550. I had an ultrasound today, but they could not find a gestational sac. I had to go to the ER and have another test. My new bloods came back at 765. I was told it may not be an ectopic pregnancy, but it could be bio-chemical. My doctor told me there is a possibility that it could still move into the uterus and implant normally. Reading what everyone else has said, I wonder if it is possible without misscarring again. There is not much information on the web that has been helpful. I was wondering if anyone out there knew any more about biochemical pregnancies and whether they are viable.

  21. Anonymous says:

    5/26/10- To: Anonymous: I’m assuming these posts are very old, but that doesn’t mean they won’t help others out there in the same situation. Anonymous, are you talking about your hcg levels? I am in the beginning of my pregnancy after doing IVF with ICSI and my first test only showed an hcg level of 36 and at that time, they like it to be around 50. Two days later, they like it to increase by about 60%. Mine only went up to 44. I was told this is most likely a biochemical pregnancy, meaning the cells are not splitting like they should. I have researched a little bit and read that many ultrasound machines cannot detect anything too early unless the the doctor has the extremely high-tech machine. I was also told that hcg levels usually go down for a biochemical pregnancy, so if mine is that, it is just a matter of time before they go down. I am supposed to be getting it rechecked tomorrow, and we are praying that we are one of the few cases where it actually turns out to be a regular pregnancy, but it is not looking good.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The nurse just confirmed that I had a biochemical pregnancy after two more blood tests since my initial pregnancy test. I’m starting feeling sad and trying to look for an answer as to what could have caused this. This is my first IVF cycle and I’m 42. Everything went relatively well until this point.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I just suffered a biochemical pregnancy on my fourth attempt at ICSI, IVF. (3 ICSI,1 FET)
    This was the first time I had got pregnant, I was so nervous before the blood test, and so ecxcited when I finally got a positive result, I think I had 2 hours sleep every night for a week and my HGC was 100.
    Four days later I started bleeding,(slept the full night that night) and on monday went straight for a blood test. After an agonising wait all day my blood test revealed the level had slipped dramatically.
    All I can say is keep the chin up, as I have been told G-d only gives you what you can handle, so Im trying to think positive for 2011 and I will try again (I am lucky to have 2 more frozen embroyos)

    Just wanted to say I have spent months reading these blogs, and its good to know its not just me going through it, and I wish you all luck. Virtual Hug x

  24. Anonymous says:

    I am glad I found this………… I am 38 and have sufferend many miscarriages and now today a biochemical……… I don’t think I will ever produce a baby…it just is not fair… all those unhealthy women who have bad habits of smoking, drugs, drinking and many other things who have babies all the time and some so healthy as I who can’t… it sucks!! I have been through every test known to man that says I am so healthy and in perfect health in every way….. obviously someone is wrong???? It just is not fair!!!

  25. I think that it is so interesting and very nice to read, I used ton read the same things when I was young, congratulations.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone who’s had a biochemical pregnancy, like I have just had, have a good story of finally having a normal pregnancy? I have only heard from this blog of all the negative, is there some postivie to look forward to or if you experience this once it is more likely that you will continue to experience the same thing?

  27. Cry123 says:

    I am new here but thought there are women out there that have gone through the same thing as me. I have been trying for 4 years with 6 failed IUIs and 3 ivf failed tries. My last one was biochemical my levels reached only 25 but refuse to disappear. It has been 2 months and my level is still at 10. I was pregnant my last frozen embryos with triplets but lost them due to misscarriage. No frozen ones this time all failed to grow beyond 5 days

  28. Anonymous says:

    So glad I found this site. It has made me’ feel like I’m not the only one.At 31 I had a right eptopic pregnancy, lost my tube, at the time they also found a cyst on my left ovary so I lost that too.. My partner and I split and after years of not finding a man strong enough for IVF for me’ I went it alone. I produced 7 eggs 6 were successfully fertilised through ICSI and 3 went on to become blastocyts! I was overjoyed. 1 was implanted on day 5 and I did indeed become pregnant.. Sadly the joy turned to tears as a few days later I began to bleed. Devastated! I have three frozen (2 blastocysts and a developing embryo) that I can have implanted in the future. I have put it off though as I can’t go through any more pain. ESP alone. I cannot believe in God anymore. I have never hurt anyone or done anything bad. Most of all I hate smug parents or parents who don’t care about their kids. Ladies thanks for letting me’ get that off my chests and I wish you all the very best of luck from the bottom of my heart. Much love MM xx

  29. Anonymous says:

    8/4/11…Found this site when looking up the meaning of biochemical pregnancy.
    I had found out 4 weeks ago that we were expecting. My husband and I were very excited because almost one year before we had went through something traumatic. In 2010 we did our first IUI and everything was going great. A little after 12 weeks I started to have some heavy bleeding, but they could not determine where it was coming from. They did ultra sounds and labs and all was normal. The baby was growing normally as well. This bleeding continued off and on for some time and then late one evening I was having a little back pain and the next thing you kow I was leaking. Needless to say my water bag ruptured and I went into pre-term labor. At 20 weeks gestation and after 13.5 hours of labor I gave birth to my son, but he didn’t make it. He was too tiny.
    Fast forward to 3 weeks ago (the day before my son’s anniversary) when we’re being told we had a biochemical pregnancy. My levels were fine for the first 7 days and then the hcg started to decrease. When told about the loss, I didn’t even ask what a biochemical pregnancy was and I didn’t get an explanation either. I was too hurt to care.
    Today I find this blog and see that I am not the only person going through this and in some way it makes me feel a little better. I have faith that one day it’ll happen and even though keeping the faith may get hard to do at times, I believe that all of this is for a reason. We’re continuing treatment and will be back for IUI soon. All I can do is pray that one day I’ll have a baby again.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hi! I just found this website as I wanted to know about biochemical pregnancy. I went through that a few months ago. I was pregnant after two weeks embryo transfer and then booked for a scan at 4weeks time to learn that there was no pregnancy. It was awful and still painful. I sometimes feel and after reading about the sad stories on the blog whether the science and technology behind IVF is really going to produce pregnancy to childbirth. I don’t understand how the celebrities in their forties are having babies and you don’t hear much bad press about IVF.
    I just went through another frozen embryo transfer today 16/11/11 praying to god that I can give my son a brother or a sister. I am scared and feels so emotional as if my entire life is dependent on it. If only I didn’t lose both my fallopian tubes I could have my dream of having a complete family. My husband is content with one child (conceived before I lost my last tube) but I am not.
    Hope you fine my story useful.

    Discontented mother from London

  31. jazbrazlife says:

    The first phone call I got from one of the nurses at the fertility center I did my IVF was not very positive. She mentioned that my pregnancy test result came out positive “however” my levels of hgc was low at 62. I asked her if this was considered to be a false positive she said no that these low numbers could be because of the biochemical pregnancy. This was the first time I heard the term. So I came here at this site and learned about other women’s experiences. At that point, I was totally sad because I knew of the risk of not having the embrio develop at this time. So, today I had it confirmed that my hgc was lower at 12 and that it was a biochemical pregnancy. I feel sad but I want to understand more about it in order to make my decision of trying IVF again or not. How many of you had biochemical pregnancy more than one time?

  32. hello I am glad I found this………… I am 38 and have sufferend many miscarriages and now today a biochemical..

  33. Anonymous says:

    No offense but why is everyone here in their 40s & doing IUI and Ivf?? I think its time to stop…. If your not meant to have kids then you won’t, thats it

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you need to keep your thoughts to your self. My question is why do so many stupid people pop out kids left and right
      Leave these women along. You heartless asshole.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I have been fortunate enough to have had 2 children naturally, when my son was a few months old i was sent to hospital after an undetectable pregnancy test result after attending my gp for severe tummy pain. When i was told i had suffered bio chemical pregnancy i didnt understand what this meant as it was not properly explained to me so i am glad i was able to find the answers to questions i had on this blog.

  35. Good post, i like it very much! I like your content of this post! Nice work. keep posting such a nice information.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I dont see any success stories unfortunately. While I started at 36 yrs old I have now been through 3 IVFS and all ended in biochemical pregnancies. ALL! What are the chances? Headed to a reproductive immunologist next month

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