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How Much Bleeding Can Be Expected After a Chemical Pregnancy?

Chemical pregnancies typically result in fetal loss within two to four weeks of implantation. As with miscarriages that occur later on in pregnancy, a certain degree of cramping and bleeding can be expected following the loss of a chemical pregnancy. Women who have experienced a very early miscarriage typically experience light to moderate uterine bleeding and cramping, similar to a menstrual period. If you have excessive bleeding and cramping following a chemical pregnancy, call your doctor.

Chemical Pregnancy Versus Menstruation

Chemical pregnancies can only be positively identified through a blood test that checks for the levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, in your blood; it usually ends before a heartbeat can be detected clinically via ultrasound, notes the Center for Human Reproduction. As such, chemical pregnancies usually end so early that many women don't even know they were pregnant. Some women, in fact, may confuse this early pregnancy loss with a late menstrual period. Women who are undergoing fertility treatments are much more likely to be aware of chemical pregnancies, since they are being closely monitored for early signs of pregnancy.

Normal Bleeding Expectations

If your pregnancy has been confirmed with a blood test, menstrual-like bleeding may occur, says Dr. Brett Worly, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center. "Once a healthy care provider has evaluated a woman and decided that early miscarriage is in fact the diagnosis, bleeding like a period or even heavier may occur," he says, pointing out that women should watch for signs of excessive bleeding, including soaking through two pads an hour for two hours in a row.

"Early pregnancy loss can cause heavy bleeding. If bleeding is so heavy that a patient can no longer sit or stand up due to lightheadedness, that person needs to go to the nearest emergency department immediately," he advises.

Additional Complications

In addition to excessive bleeding, watch for complications such as painful cramping, a foul-smelling discharge or high fever, as these can be signs that an infection has developed. Severe pain that does not improve with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or fever with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, are other reasons to seek immediate medical attention," Worly states.

While complications from a miscarriage before 20 weeks are rare, they do occur and usually result from fetal tissue being left in the uterus. These miscarriages, which are known as incomplete miscarriages, may necessitate a minor surgical procedure known as dilation and curettage, or D & C, in which any remaining fetal tissue is removed from your uterus.

Other Possible Causes

Whether your pregnancy has been confirmed with a blood test or suspect you may be pregnant, keep in mind that some light spotting or bleeding is normal during early pregnancy and can be a result of implantation or hormonal changes. Still, Worly advises, any bleeding early in a pregnancy should be evaluated by your health care provider.

"While normal pregnancy and miscarriage are the two most common diagnoses for early pregnancy bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy outside the uterus or womb, is possible and could be a life threat," he says.

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