HCG Level - What You Need To Know About It

When you (females of reproductive ages) are carrying a pregnancy or trying to get pregnant, you have several queries in your mind. Chances of miscarriage if HCG levels are rising is one of them. You can make your eagerness go down when you have all the essential information/knowledge about hCG. 

What is hCG?   

Standing for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), it is a pregnancy hormone. The placenta of the growing baby produces this hormone when you are pregnant. Its presence in your blood or urine shows that you have conceived.  

Should I request my doctor to check hCG level when I am pregnant?

No, there is no need to check hCG levels. A simple urine pregnancy test is enough to make you confirm your pregnancy. Your doctor may request you to have this test again if your test report is negative. Further, the doctor can recommend a blood hCG level test. You can detect the presence of hCG in your blood or urine through a home pregnancy test after 11-15 days of unprotected sex.  

Interpretation of hCG levels in women who became pregnant through IVF 

Good, you are pregnant. However, you need to be careful if your pregnancy test is positive after 15 days of embryo transfer. In the IVF treatment process, egg fertilisation with sperm and embryo development takes place outside and experts transfer a healthy embryo into your uterus through the cervix and vagina. Your doctor conducts a pregnancy test after 15 days of embryo transfer to know whether you are pregnant or not.  

The doctor considers your pregnancy test report positive if the value of hcg IS HIGHER THAN 100 mlU/ml and it is negative when the value is lower than 5 mlU/ml. Any value between these two levels is good. And your doctor can recommend to have a pregnancy test again after 48-72 hours of the first one to know the rise or fall in your hCG levels. 

Is careful interpretation a need if hCG trigger is given in IVF cycle?   

Yes, it is a need. Usually, doctors use medications that have hCG in the IVF treatment process. The trigger injections can interrupt the levels of hCG. Therefore, experts advise a blood level test for hCG presence only after 14 days of embryo transfer to confirm whether implantation has occurred or not. Your doctor can advise you to stay away from the use of an online hCG calculator. 

What is the doubling time of hCG levels?

If your pregnancy is healthy, your hCG levels will double in 48-72 hours. And the level will keep rising when your pregnancy becomes 12 weeks. After the end of the first trimester of your pregnancy, it sees a fall and the fall continues till baybirth.   

What do you think about the fall and rise in hCG levels?

You do not need to worry if your hCG levels won’t get doubled in 48-72 hours. Avoid reading info on the numbers and discussing with your doctor. As per Ruchi Malhotra of FSIVF and recent studies, around 15% of healthy pregnancies show doubling in hCG levels in or up to 96 hours. However, a slow increase in hCG levels can be an indication of ectopic pregnancy. In such a case, your doctor can ask you to have an early transvaginal ultrasound. Even normal pregnancy with no proper rise in hCG levels can lead a female to face a miscarriage. 

A fall in hCG levels is not a good sign. It can be an early miscarriage or biochemical pregnancy.        

What does extreme high or low hCG mean? 

A very high hCG level may indicate Molar Pregnancy or Multiple Pregnancies. On the other hand, a very low hCG level may indicate Biochemical Pregnancy, Ectopic Pregnancy, or Blighted Ovum.  

What is the right time to have an ultrasound to know whether my baby is growing well or not?

Doctors usually recommend an ultrasound after 1 month of embryo transfer or after 15 days of positive test report of hCG. It is as a pregnancy is seen on an ultrasound when hCG levels are higher than 1500 mlU/ml. The ultrasound can show whether your pregnancy is normal or abnormal. 

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Do you need to do anything with hCG when I have morning sickness?

Due to rise in your hCG levels, you have increased nausea, mood swings, and vomiting that are signs of early pregnancy. It happens to you due to fluctuations in your hCG levels. You will experience more nausea and vomiting if you have multiple pregnancies due to higher hCG levels.  

I am not pregnant. However, there is a rise in hCG levels. What does it mean?

Some women, who are not pregnant, have a rise in hCG levels due to some types of cancer such as ovarian cell tumours and gestational trophoblastic diseases. Some particular cancer tests can make men have hCG hormone.   

I have positive pregnancy test after miscarriage or delivery? What does it mean? 

It takes around 4-6 week time to have negative hCG after miscarriage or delivery. A urine test just after delivery or miscarriage can be misleading.  

Take away 

The value of a single hCG differs from a female to another. It can be normal for a woman but abnormal to another. There is a very complex relationship between pregnancy outcomes and hCG levels. Doctor consultation is a must for you.