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What is a biochemical pregnancy??

Image by Sarah Pflug

Biochemical pregnancy is one that occurs within just a few weeks of implantation. It is believed that biochemical pregnancies account for up to 75% of all miscarriages. Even at such an early stage, the embryo produces enough of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to be detected by a pregnancy test. Sadly, however, the embryo does not develop into a healthy pregnancy. Biochemical pregnancy can be devastating for couples who are trying to start a family.⁠

Women who experience repeated IVF failures need to be evaluated thoroughly for both embryo competency and implantation dysfunction before and/or in the course of their next IVF attempt. Implantation problems should be evaluated before proceeding to the next IVF cycle. ⁠

Unexplained Infertility 

Unexplained infertility can only truly be diagnosed after a full and complete fertility evaluation of both the male and female partner.

An unexplained infertility diagnosis may be justified if it has been shown that…

You are ovulating regularly.

Your ovarian reserves are good. (Evaluated with blood work and/or an antral follicle count.)

Your fallopian tubes are open and healthy. (Evaluated with an HSG.)

Your partner’s semen analysis is normal (including total count, sperm movement, and sperm shape.)

There are no serious uterine fertility issues. (Evaluated with a hysteroscopy.)

If any of the above has not been evaluated, a diagnosis of unexplained infertility may be premature.

Some may also argue a laparoscopy is also needed to rule out endometriosis. Endometriosis cannot be diagnosed with blood work or ultrasound.

Other reasons for What is a biochemical pregnancy??: 

The interaction between the vaginal environment and sperm: After ejaculation, sperm must make their way out of the semen and into the cervical mucus. Then, they must swim up from the vagina, into the cervical opening, and eventually into the uterus.

Sometimes, there may be problems during that transition period, from the semen, into the cervical mucus, and up the cervix. For example, there may be antibodies in the cervical mucus or even the semen that attack the sperm.

This is known as hostile cervical mucus. How to effectively diagnose this problem isn’t clear, leaving cases like these frequently unexplained.

Poor egg quality: We have tests to determine if you’re ovulating, and testing to get a general idea of whether there is a relatively good quantity of eggs in the ovaries.

But there is no test to determine whether the eggs are good quality. Poor quality eggs may be caused by age, an underlying medical condition, or some yet unknown cause.

One study published in 2016 found that a newly discovered virus is more commonly found in the endometrial tissue of women with infertility than in women with proven fertility. But how to diagnose and treat this problem isn’t known.

Problems with a fertilized egg developing to a healthy embryo: Let’s say we get a healthy looking egg and sperm, and they become an embryo. Next, the cells inside the embryo divide and grow to eventually form a fetus.

Sometimes, this goes wrong. This is another problem that may be diagnosed during IVF treatment since embryos are monitored for normal cell division.

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency 

Primary ovarian insufficiency — also called premature ovarian failure — occurs when the ovaries stop functioning normally before age 40. When this happens, your ovaries don’t produce normal amounts of the hormone estrogen or release eggs regularly.

Women with primary ovarian insufficiency can have irregular or occasional periods for years and might even get pregnant.

Signs and symptoms of primary ovarian insufficiency are similar to those of menopause or estrogen deficiency. They include:

Irregular or skipped periods, which might be present for years or develop after a pregnancy or after stopping birth control pills

Difficulty getting pregnant

Hot flashes

Night sweats

Vaginal dryness

Dry eyes

Irritability or difficulty concentrating

Decreased sexual desire