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What Is Hcg Level

what is hcg level

What Is hCG Human Chorionic Gonadotropin?

hCG stands for "Human Chorionic Gonadotropin," the pregnancy hormone, which is produced by the placenta and which is detected in the blood within a few days after implantation. When you test at home with a pregnancy test, you actually test for the presence of hCG in the urine. If hCG is present, then the pregnancy test will be positive, and that means you are pregnant unless there is a false positive pregnancy test.

Increase Of hCG In Early Pregnancy

hCG usually doubles every 48-72 hours very early in pregnancy and every 3-4 days later on until about 9-10 weeks of the pregnancy when it levels off. There is no single "normal" hCG level during early pregnancy and there are wide ranges of normal levels which you can check with our hCG calculator.

How do pregnancy tests detect hCG levels and determine if you’re pregnant?

Pregnancy tests are designed to detect changes in hCG levels using a scientific technique called sandwich enzyme immunoassay, and while this sounds complicated (and the biochemistry definitely is!), the principles are about as complicated as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

hCG is a large molecule made of two separate components: the alpha part and the beta part. A pregnancy test comes with antibodies (aka “bread slices”) to detect the alpha part (“the peanut butter”) and the beta part (“the grape jelly”). So, if you take a pregnancy test and are pregnant, hCG in your urine will be sandwiched by the antibodies on the stick, and this sandwiching triggers the release of a dye, creating the dark line which indicates a positive pregnant test. The second line is a control test to make sure the antibodies are working.

Why is the hCG blood test performed?

  • 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.

Serial hCG Blood Tests

A single hCG test may be done to see if your levels are in the normal range of hCG for a specific point in pregnancy while serial hCG measurements are done to look at hCG doubling times. This gives your doctor an idea of whether or not your pregnancy is progressing as it should.

With serial hCG measurements, quantitative hCG blood tests are drawn two to three days apart. This is because ordinarily, in early pregnancy, the hCG level in your blood doubles every two to three days.

A Word From Verywell

Monitoring quantitative hCG levels can provide helpful information to assess whether you are miscarrying or have other pregnancy complications such as an ectopic pregnancy.

Since hCG levels vary from person to person, however, serial levels a few days apart give a better idea of the status of your pregnancy. In addition to your hCG levels, your doctor will use other information like any physical symptoms you are experiencing and the results of an early ultrasound to determine if a miscarriage is occurring.

While you are having your hCG levels monitored you may be feeling anxious, and this is understandable. In coping with this uncertainty, many women don't know if they should be excited about pregnancy or grieving a miscarriage.

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