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Hcg Level

Hcg Level

What is hCG?

hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is one of the major pregnancy hormones. Once implantation occurs, the placenta begins to form and secrete hCG. hCG levels rise and send a signal to the corpus luteum to keep producing progesterone, which in turn maintains the uterine lining (instead of shedding it and getting your period) and supports the developing embryo. For this reason, this hCG signal is sometimes called the “rescue of the corpus luteum.”

Do you have hCG levels when you are not pregnant?

Yes, but not in significant quantities. While hCG is typically considered the pregnancy hormone, every woman has very low levels of hCG (less than 5 IU/mL). However, hCG levels become meaningful once the placenta begins to secrete it in high amounts. So, unless you’re pregnant, you wouldn’t expect to see a positive pregnancy test because hCG levels would be too low for detection.

What is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)?

During pregnancy, cells in the developing placenta make hCG. The placenta is the sac that nourishes the egg after it’s fertilized and attaches to the uterine wall.

hCG can first be detected in a blood sample about 11 days after conception. Levels of hCG continue to double every 48 to 72 hours. They reach their peak around 8 to 11 weeks after conception.

hCG levels then decline and level off, remaining steady for the rest of the pregnancy.

What risks are associated with the hCG blood test?

Risks involved with having blood taken are minimal.

There may be a small amount of bruising where the needle was inserted. This can be minimized by applying pressure to the area for several minutes after the needle is removed.

In very rare cases, the following may occur:

  • excessive bleeding
  • lightheadedness
  • fainting
  • hematoma, which happens when blood accumulates under your skin
  • infection at the needle site
  • swollen veins

Why is the hCG blood test performed?

The hCG blood test is performed to:

  • confirm pregnancy
  • determine the approximate age of the fetus
  • diagnose an abnormal pregnancy, such as an ectopic pregnancy
  • diagnose a potential miscarriage
  • screen for Down syndrome

The hCG blood test is sometimes used to screen for pregnancy before you undergo certain medical treatments that could potentially harm a developing baby. Examples of these treatments include X-rays.

If an hCG test concludes that someone is pregnant, healthcare professionals can ensure that they’re protected and that the fetus isn’t harmed by those medical treatments.