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hCG Hormone in Pregnancy

Katlyn Joy |23, August 2010


hCG Hormone in Pregnancy

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
0-1 week 0-50
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
Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Baby girl Sep 2, 2017 09:07:39 PM ET

My lmp was on 5 of August. I had implantation bleeding on the 30 of August. Did a hcg test that day and it was negative. Could it be possible I did the test way too early because I'm having pregnancy symptoms.

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Danielle Jan 13, 2017 12:56:46 PM ET

My last PD was Dec. 13 2016. I did test and it was positive, but very faint. Is that normal?

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Jen Dec 2, 2016 01:43:21 PM ET

I have very, very irregular periods. For the past year I have to wear a pad because I have regular, heavy or light periods everyday. My Dr said it might be cysts in my ovaries. I have a gyno appointment in 1 week. I had unprotected sex while on my period a week from today, and he came in me. Today my period stopped completely, to where I'm lightly spotting or blood when I wipe. I feel gassy and extra bloated. Could I be pregnant?

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nonna Apr 27, 2013 07:38:25 AM ET

I had simple drops of blood and cramps ten days after ovulation and i think it is due to implantation. But i had negative pregnancy test one day after i missed my period. please tell me your advise. I hope to be pregnant

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Julia Mar 15, 2012 04:13:16 PM ET

Feb.26 2012 was the first period since giving birth on sept. 30 2011 I am still breastfeeding but not as much now since my little one started baby food. I was wondering if it is possable to miss/skip the next period due to still breastfeeding? although I know there is a good chance of pregnancy.

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michelle Feb 10, 2012 07:44:27 PM ET

I had my pd on jan 18 2012 stopd on jan 22 2012 . I had unprotectd sex on jan 28 2012. Then on feb 4 i spotted brown for two days and now ive been cramping and not been hungry really i think i could be pregnant i think when i spotted it was from implantaton. And my pd is due in five days so i could alrdy b 3 wks 2 days prego.

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