A week ago I took a pregnancy test around 6:00 AM, when my whole house was quiet, and to my great shock, I saw two pink lines. I woke up Mr. Cotton Candy to tell him the news, and then it was on with our day…we had a ton of cleaning and organizing to do before picking up Mr. Cotton Candy’s parents at the airport early that evening. After a busy and fun four days of celebrating Christmas early with Mr. CC’s family, I got my period…I immediately started Googling and realized what was happening: I’d just had a chemical pregnancy.

What is a chemical pregnancy?

I’d heard the term “chemical pregnancy” before but hadn’t really thought about what it meant. According to Very Well

“[T]he term ‘chemical pregnancy’ refers only to an early pregnancy loss and not the early stages of a viable pregnancy. In a chemical pregnancy, the hCG levels never rise very high and the woman usually begins to have bleeding less than a week after having a positive pregnancy test. Doctors believe that chemical pregnancies never fully implant properly and they suspect that most involve chromosomal abnormalities.”

I’d actually noticed some changes that I thought were early pregnancy symptoms: tender breasts, fatigue, bloating. I took a pregnancy test that was negative, and then four days later I got the positive test. Four days after that, I got my period, just seven days late.

Is a chemical pregnancy a miscarriage?

Yes, technically, but the chemical pregnancy was very different from the first-trimester miscarriage I had in 2010. My only symptoms with the chemical pregnancy were a massive headache and stiffness in my shoulders for a couple of days before I got my period (though that also could be ascribed to the nasty cold I’m currently battling), and a bit of cramping (which felt like your average menstrual cramps).


To contrast, when I had a miscarriage at around eight weeks pregnant in 2010, I suffered with severe cramps, intense bleeding, and passing large blood clots. Also, the emotional impacts of that experience were much more intense. Right before and during my miscarriage I was extremely distressed; just after, I was depressed. Post chemical pregnancy, I just feel a bit bummed that this one didn’t take. However, I can imagine for people who have been trying longer that a chemical pregnancy can be a source of intense disappointment and sadness.

When can you start trying to conceive after a chemical pregnancy?

According to various sites I have looked at, the advice from doctors varies from “you can try again right away” to “you should wait one to two cycles to try again.” If you experience a chemical pregnancy and are not sure when to begin TTC again, I would recommend talking to your doctor.

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Although overall my chemical pregnancy was pretty much physically just like having a late period, the timing of it was difficult. Because the entire four days we thought we were pregnant we were also hosting Mr. Cotton Candy’s family, the two of us never had a private moment to process the pregnancy together and enjoy it. (Not to mention how awkward it was trying to take a second pregnancy test in my son’s bathroom without anyone in the house catching me, haha.) We were both so looking forward to getting to have a few moments together to talk about the future and be excited together, but we never got that. In hindsight, perhaps it was a blessing; if the pregnancy was never going to be viable, it’s better that it ended so quickly rather than at a later point once the fetus had developed more.

Now that the holidays are winding down, Mr. Cotton Candy and I are ready to move ahead and keep trying for baby number two in the new year. We are hopeful and excited.

Have you experienced a chemical pregnancy? What was it like for you?