Is It Possible To Be A Little Bit Pregnant?

biochemical pregnancy
How You Can Be A Little Bit Pregnant...

While most fertility guides tell you there is no such thing as being a little bit pregnant, you either are or you're not - this is not quite true. Consider that nearly 70 percent of pregnancies end before the fetus even develops a heartbeat and in most cases the woman never knows she was pregnant. She doesn't experience obvious pregnancy symptoms because the embryo is expelled from the body before she misses her period. This is known as a chemical pregnancy - the woman was technically pregnant but it was short-lived. Some women (who may be particularly in tune with their body) do experience some of the early signs of pregnancy with a chemical pregnancy such as breast tenderness and pregnancy cramps. See our question: what are the early signs of pregnancy before a missed period? for more details. A chemical pregnancy may feel like you are having a particularly bad dose of PMS which ends up leading to a heavier period than normal with clots of blood. This is in fact the passing of a very early embryo.

Testing For Early Pregnancy
Usually most home pregnancy tests will not be able to pick up these short-lived pregnancies. The only way to discover them would be for a doctor to perform a blood test - this is much more accurate and sensitive as it allows him to check for pregnancy hormones (HCG) levels in your blood. Typically women who are having infertility treatment will given this test to check for signs of pregnancy within 2 weeks of an embryo transfer. A HCG level of 5 is considered 'positive' but it needs to reach 50 before the result is considered ‘good’. In a healthy pregnancy HCG levels double every 2 to 3 days. If the test is performed again a few days later but the HCG levels have dropped, the doctor may diagnose a chemical pregnancy. In other words the embryo started to implant but the process was naturally aborted and the embryo was expelled. In most cases this is because the embryo is chromosomally abnormal - it’s Mother Nature performing natural selection. See also, what is a chemical pregnancy?

Another Case
Most home pregnancy tests can now be performed a few days before your period is due. This advancement, while exciting, can from time to time be the cause of unnecessary anxiety or disappointment. Take a woman who tests 2 days before her period is due and tests positive. But then she gets her period. Is she pregnant? Unlikely. It may be that she experienced a chemical pregnancy - and before the advent of home tests, she would have been oblivious to the fact. Another test after her period will probably be negative. If it's not, she should see her doctor immediately for advice.

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• Need more information about pregnancy? See: Pregnancy Guide
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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