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What Is Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Used For

what is human chorionic gonadotropin used for

What Is HCG?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a natural hormone that doctors prescribe as an injectable drug with the brand names Pregnyl and Novarel, and in a related form called Ovidrel.

HCG improves fertility by increasing sperm production in men and encouraging egg release in women.

It also helps treat sex hormone-linked conditions, such as undescended testes in young men and undeveloped sexual traits in girls.

Depending on its use, HCG is considered to be either an endocrine drug or a fertility drug. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved HCG in 1974.

HCG and Weight Loss

Although a prescription drug, HCG pills and liquid are sometimes purchased as a weight-loss supplement.

Since the FDA has not approved HCG for weight loss or over-the-counter (OTC) use, its sale is illegal, and any purported benefit of HCG in weight loss remains controversial.

The manufacturer of Pregnyl clearly states in its package insert that HCG has no proven benefit in weight loss, appetite decrease, or change in body-fat composition.

What is it used for in men?

In men, doctors prescribe hCG to combat the symptoms of hypogonadism, such as low testosterone and infertility. It can help the body increase production of testosterone and increase sperm production, which can reduce infertility.

Injections of hCG are also sometimes used as an alternative to testosterone products in men with testosterone deficiency. Testosterone deficiency is defined as testosterone blood levels less than 300 nanograms per deciliter along with symptoms of low testosterone. These include:

  • fatigue
  • stress
  • low sex drive
  • depressed mood

According to the American Urological Association, hCG is appropriate for those men with testosterone deficiency who also desire to maintain fertility.

Testosterone products boost levels of the hormone in the body but can have the side effects of shrinking the gonads, altering sexual function, and causing infertility. HCG can help increase testosterone levels, increase fertility, and increase gonad size.

Important information

HCG is given as an injection under the skin or into a muscle. If you use HCG at home, your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will give you specific instructions on how and where to inject this medicine. Do not self-inject HCG if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these signs of a blood clot: pain, warmth, redness, numbness, or tingling in your arm or leg; confusion, extreme dizziness, or severe headache.

Some women using this medicine have developed a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), especially after the first treatment cycle. OHSS can be a life-threatening condition. Call your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of OHSS: severe pelvic pain, swelling of the hands or legs, stomach pain and swelling, shortness of breath, weight gain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and urinating less than normal.

HCG can cause early puberty in young boys. Call your doctor if a boy using this medicine shows early signs of puberty, such as a deepened voice, pubic hair growth, and increased acne or sweating.

Using HCG can increase your chances of having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc). A multiple pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy for the mother and for the babies. Follow your doctor's instructions about any special care you may need during your pregnancy.

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

The takeaway

HCG is an FDA-approved medication for treating specific conditions in both women and men. In men, it seems to have an important role as an alternative to testosterone for boosting testosterone levels and maintaining fertility.

Some doctors are prescribing it in conjunction with testosterone products for testosterone deficiency to help maintain fertility and sexual function.

Some people are also using hCG for weight loss, often as a component of the hCG diet. However, there is no reliable evidence that hCG works for this purpose, and it might not be safe.

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