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Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Function

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Function


Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG, or human chorionic gonadotrophin) is a placental hormone initially secreted by cells (syncitiotrophoblasts) from the implanting conceptus during week 2, supporting the ovarian corpus luteum, which in turn supports the endometrial lining and therefore maintains pregnancy.

The hormone can be detected in maternal blood and urine and is the basis of many pregnancy tests. The protein has many other roles including stimulating the onset of fetal gonadal steroidogenesis, and high levels have been found to be teratogenic to fetal gonadal tissues.

How is human chorionic gonadotrophin controlled?

Human chorionic gonadotrophin is produced by the trophoblast cells which surround the developing embryo at approximately day five of pregnancy. The amount of human chorionic gonadotrophin in the bloodstream doubles every 2-3 days as development of the embryo and placenta continue, and levels peak at around six weeks of pregnancy. Following this peak, levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin fall (although they remain detectable throughout pregnancy). Once the placenta is established, it becomes the main source of progesterone production (around week 12 of pregnancy), and human chorionic gonadotrophin is no longer required to maintain ovarian function. However, human chorionic gonadotrophin may have additional beneficial effects in the latter stages of pregnancy; such roles are currently being investigated by researchers.

Pregnancy and HCG

HCG causes birth defects. It should not be taken if you are pregnant.

Tell your doctor immediately if you become pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant.

Whether or not the hormone enters breast milk isn't known, so talk to your doctor before taking HCG if you are breastfeeding.

HCG Side Effects

  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles, lowers legs, or hands
  • Appearance of female breasts in men
  • Pain in the area where you received the injection

HCG Dosage

The dose of injectable HCG that your doctor prescribes depends on your sex and the condition being treated.

HCG Overdose

If you suspect an overdose, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately.

You can contact a poison control center at (800) 222-1222.

Missed Dose of HCG

If you've missed an injection or an appointment to receive your injection, call your doctor's office to reschedule as soon as possible. 

If you're injecting the medication yourself, call your doctor and do not double the dose to make up for the mixed one.

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