What is hCG?



Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that is produced by the placenta of a pregnant woman. It is detectable in the blood and urine within 10 days of fertilization and hence forms the basis of all pregnancy tests. Because human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is produced by the placenta, the presence of HCG in a woman’s blood indicates that she is most probably pregnant. A pregnancy blood test or a pregnancy serum test measures the exact amount of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), in the bloodstream.

After the fertilized egg implants, or attaches, to the inside of the uterus or other structure inside the mother, the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) rise rapidly. The levels continue to increase throughout the first trimester of pregnancy and reach a peak 60 to 80 days after the fertilized egg implants. If you suspect any symptoms of pregnancy like delayed menstrual period, breast tenderness, pelvic pain, and irregular spotting or vomiting, you must get a pregnancy blood test done to confirm or rule out pregnancy

Why is hCG so important?

hCG or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, also commonly known as the pregnancy hormone is produced by the cells of the implanting egg and can be produced in the absence of an embryo. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is thought to be important in converting the normal corpus luteum into the corpus luteum of pregnancy. The corpus luteum is a hormone-secreting structure that grows on the surface of the ovary after ovulation takes place. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), is produced regardless of the site of implantation of the egg in pregnancy. Usually this occurs within the uterus, but may happen outside the uterus, which is called an ectopic pregnancy.





Why could it be important to know my beta hCG levels?

As the embryo grows, the level of hCG rises and, as a general rule, hCG beta numbers should double every 36 to 48 hours. A dramatic decrease in the levels may indicate a miscarriage has occurred or is possible, whereas a level that stays the same or falls well below the normal range may indicate an ectopic pregnancy. Beta hCG levels can also be used to identify a multiple pregnancy like twins, triplets, or multiples. In such cases the hCG levels will peak out by the end of the first trimester.


Last modified: February 10, 2013

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