What does a ‘slow-riser’ mean?
A slow riser refers to when HCG levels do not increase at the rate that is expected. For example, in early pregnancy HCG levels double every couple of days in the vast majority of pregnancies. However, one out of every five women will be a “slow riser’ meaning that her HCG levels do not increase rapidly although she has a viable pregnancy.
HCG levels will generally start to decline after the second month of pregnancy and are not considered an important indicator in the outcome of the pregnancy after this time. Normal HCG levels are above 10,000mIU/ML at the eight week mark. Some slow riser women may have lower levels than this. Slow risers may be due to a pending miscarriage or it could be that the woman’s body is just responding to the pregnancy in that way. There is no way to predict either way unless an ultrasound is done. Usually, after a woman has HCG levels of 6,000mIU/ML the baby should show up on ultrasound. However, even if the baby is not visible that does not mean that the baby isn’t thriving. There are many reasons why a baby that small can’t be seen.
There are women who have HCG levels over 100,000mIU/ML whose babies can’t be seen on ultrasound. This is frequently due to abnormalities like bicornuate uterus, tilted uterus, or some other situation that would cause the “hidden baby.”
Many women have a tilted uterus if they have suffered from endometriosis and others simply have a tilted uterus because of their genetics. If you have a tilted uterus your doctor should be able to inform you of this during an ultrasound.
Many women have uterine abnormalities that cannot be seen on ultrasound and generally are only obvious during a C section. Women whose mothers took DES or medicines for morning sickness many years ago may have a uterine abnormality as a result. If you know your mother took any of these drugs it is important to share that information with your doctor.