hCG Hormone in Pregnancyby Katlyn Joy | August 23, 2010 12:00 AM
hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone produced during pregnancy . It first appears a few days following the embryo's implantation into the uterine wall. Implantation typically occurs 6 to 10 days following conception. It is hCG which causes a positive result on a pregnancy test, whether a blood or urine test. hCG levels increase with the embryo's growth, doubling every few days or so.
The job of hCG is to keep the hormones estrogen and progesterone balanced until the point when the placenta is developed. The levels peak around the end of the first trimester, then drop off.
Pregnancy tests vary greatly in their sensitivity to hCG and therefore in their ability to first detect a pregnancy. Some tests are capable of determining pregnancy before a period has even been missed.
While there are guidelines for hCG levels and a normal range, every woman and every pregnancy is unique. There is simply too much variation with the hormone levels to set a standard number expected at different days in the pregnancy or to use hCG levels to date a pregnancy.
There are two types of tests for hCG. One is a quantitative test, which means it tests for the presence of hCG. The other is a qualitative test which tests for the amount of hCG.
An hCG level way off average can indicate a problem. hCG levels that are low may mean a miscalculated due date, a miscarriage, blighted ovum or an ectopic pregnancy. The levels should be rechecked in a couple days to see if there is still an abnormal reading. If the numbers still appear low, other tests such as a sonogram may be necessary.
If the hCG numbers are unusually high, the pregnancy may be further along than thought previously, or it could mean a molar pregnancy or twins or more. Again, an ultrasound would probably follow a second high reading of the hCG levels.
hCG levels are not commonly rechecked once pregnancy is confirmed, unless symptoms like cramping, bleeding or other concerns are raised regarding the pregnancy.
Typically the only medications that may affect the hCG levels are medications for fertility. Regular over the counter medications and prescriptions including birth control pills should have no effect on hCG tests.
|Weeks from the Last Mentral Period (LMP)||Amount of hCG in mIU/ml|
|1-2 weeks||40 - 300|
|3-4 weeks||500 - 6,000|
|1-2 months||5,000 - 200,000|
|2-3 months||10,000 - 100,000|
|2nd trimester||3,000 - 50,000|
|3rd trimester||1,000 - 50,000|
|Non-pregnant females||< 5.0|
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