Positive Pregnancy Test After Miscarriage

A miscarriage is a devastating experience and the mourning process is not a smooth and easy one. But in some cases, the pain, confusion, and stress are compounded by the fact that you continue to have positive results when you take pregnancy tests. Can this mean that you didn't really miscarry? Is there still a baby?

Sad Answer

The sad answer to this question is no, you are no longer pregnant. The miscarriage really did happen. There is a reasonable explanation as to why your test results continue to be positive for pregnancy, however.

During conception, the fertilized egg becomes implanted within the uterus. At this stage, a woman's body produces the pregnancy hormone known as hCG. Pregnancy tests are meant to detect the presence of hCG in urine. If the hormone is found in the urine sample, this is proof positive of pregnancy, since the body will only produce the hormone hCG when a woman is pregnant.

However, should the fetus stop developing and a miscarriage take place; this hormone will still be circulating in a woman's system. It won't disappear overnight. Sometimes hCG can take weeks to disappear from the body. This, in part, depends on how far along the pregnancy was at the time the miscarriage occurred. Meantime, if the levels of hCG are measured, there will be a noticeable drop as time elapses.

Very Early

On average, it takes 19 days for hCG levels to return to zero after a miscarriage. This is the reason why sometimes a woman will have a positive pregnancy test but doesn't develop any signs of pregnancy. In this case, it becomes clear that a woman has had a very early miscarriage. The only sign that she was ever pregnant was the finding of hCG in her urine sample.

Doctors call this event a "chemical pregnancy." A key difference here is in the amount of time in which the hCG levels fall to zero. In a chemical pregnancy, levels of hCG may return to normal after only a few days. However, a late miscarriage may leave a woman with hCG in her urine for more than a month after the tragedy. The fact that hCG can be found in the urine even after miscarriage has occurred proves that these tests are very sensitive to even very low levels of hCG.

Your doctor will want to know if you continue to have positive pregnancy test results as long as a few weeks after the miscarriage has occurred. It's possible some tissue from the miscarriage has been retained in your uterus and the positive results are a clue to this finding. Your doctor may decide you need to have this tissue removed through a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure.

Feel Unsure?

Of course, if you've been sexually active during this time, it's just possible you really are pregnant. Make an appointment with your doctor if you feel unsure.

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