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Hcg Pregnancy

Hcg Pregnancy

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone normally produced by the placenta. If you are pregnant, you can detect it in your urine. Blood tests measuring hCG levels can also be used to check how well your pregnancy is progressing, including your baby’s development.

Confirming pregnancy

After you conceive (when the sperm fertilises the egg), the developing placenta begins to produce and release hCG.

It takes about 2 weeks for your hCG levels to be high enough to be detected in your urine using a home pregnancy test.

A positive home test result is almost certainly correct, but a negative result is less reliable.

If you do a pregnancy test on the first day of your missed period, and it’s negative, wait about a week. If you still think you might be pregnant, do the test again or see your doctor.

HCG blood levels

Low levels of hCG may be detected in your blood within about 7 days of you becoming pregnant. hCG levels are highest towards the end of the first trimester, then gradually decline over the rest of your pregnancy.

The average levels of hCG in a pregnant woman’s blood are:

  • non-pregnant women - less than 10 U/L
  • borderline pregnancy result - 10 to 25 U/L
  • positive pregnancy test  - more than 25 U/L
  • pregnant women, about 4 weeks after the LMP (average 1 week before first missed period) - 0 to 750 U/L
  • pregnant women, about 5 weeks after the LMP (week after first missed period) - 200 to 7,000 U/L
  • pregnant women, about 6 weeks after the LMP - 200 to 32,000 U/L
  • pregnant women, about 7th weeks after the LMP - 3,000 to 160,000 U/L
  • pregnant women, about 8 to 12 weeks after the LMP - 32,000 to 210,000 U/L
  • pregnant women, about 13 to 16 weeks after the LMP - 9,000 to 210,000 U/L
  • pregnant women, about 16 to 29 weeks after the LMP - 1,400 to 53,000 U/L
  • pregnant women, about 29 to 41 weeks after the LMP - 940 to 60,000 U/L

What Can A High HCG Level Mean?

A high level of hCG can also mean a number of things and should be rechecked within 48-72 hours to evaluate changes in the level.

A high hCG level can indicate:

  • Miscalculation of pregnancy dating
  • Molar pregnancy
  • Multiple pregnancy

What Can I Expect From My HCG Levels After A Pregnancy Loss?

Most women can expect their levels to return to a non-pregnant range about 4 – 6 weeks after a pregnancy loss has occurred.

This can differentiate by how the loss occurred (spontaneous miscarriage, D & C procedure, abortion, natural delivery) and how high the levels were at the time of the loss.

Healthcare providers usually will continue to test hCG levels after a pregnancy loss to ensure they return back to <5.0.

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.

Can you estimate HCG levels with a home pregnancy test?

While home pregnancy tests detect hCG in urine to determine if you’re pregnant, they cannot tell you the actual amount of hCG present. Because they are providing a qualitative result (aka yes or no), one thing to be mindful of is whether you are testing too often. So, if you test two days in a row, that may not be enough time for enough hCG to accumulate in your urine to generate a positive test, and the test results may look faint or negative.

Generally, based on the way home pregnancy tests work, the lines will start out faint and then get darker as pregnancy progresses and hCG levels rise until around week five of pregnancy, when the hook effect can happen. Check out the next section to learn about how false negative results can happen the further along you are in your pregnancy.

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