HCG Levels in Pregnancy
Whether it is their first pregnancy, or they have been pregnant before, many women have heard the term “hCG” while they are either trying to conceive, or shortly after they conceive, but they don’t necessarily know what it means.
In the medical world, hCG is short for Human chorionic gonadotropin which is a hormone that a woman makes when she is pregnant. It can be detected in a urine sample or a blood sample as early as 10 days before your period should start. However, it can take until several days after you miss your period for these levels to be high enough that they can be detected.
The hCG hormone helps sustain a woman’s pregnancy until the second trimester when the placenta starts functioning fully and takes over. It also helps create the testes, secretes estrogen, and helps develop the placenta.
For women who have faced infertility issues, or who have had problems with miscarriages, doctors will routinely draw blood to check the hCG levels 2-3 times a week in early pregnancy. This is because hCG is supposed to at least double in a 48 hour period until it reaches a certain level, when it starts to decline. If the levels are doubling, it is often a sign that the pregnancy is viable and progressing as normal. If there is only a small rise in the number, no rise in the number, or a drop, it can be the first sign to a doctor or midwife that this pregnancy may not last through the first trimester.
There is no “norm” in the range for hCG levels in a pregnancy. They generally fall into this range.
|Week since last menstrual period began||Amount of hCG in mIU/ml|
|3||5 – 50 (less than 5 means you are not pregnant)|
|5||19 – 7,340|
|7-8||7,650 – 229,000|
If hCG levels are taken and they not only double, but triple, quadruple or more, this is often a sign that there is more than one baby in the uterus. When a woman is pregnant with multiples, her hormones will rise much faster than they do when it is just a single pregnancy.
If you have questions about your hCG levels, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife. They are the only ones who can correctly test, judge, and give you answers regarding the health of your pregnancy.
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