Everything Expecting Mothers Need to Know About HCG

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HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, is what a woman’s body produces during pregnancy within the wall of the placenta. Once embryo implantation takes place against the uterine wall, HCG production begins. It’s at this point that pregnancy tests start working because HCG levels in a urine and blood sample are tested. Around eleven days following conception, pregnancy tests can pick up this hormone in the blood. It isn’t until around twelve to fourteen days following conception, however, that a urine test can pick up HCG levels.


When HCG begins surging through a woman’s body, it’s responsible for all of the pregnancy-related symptoms they often feel: fatigue, breast tenderness, emotions off-kilter, and nausea. These symptoms usually occur during early pregnancy, but can sometimes last throughout.

What Should Expecting Moms Know About HCG?

  • It isn’t uncommon for expectant moms to not know their HCG reading, or what it will be.
  • For those who do learn their HCG reading, it doesn’t matter if it’s low. Mothers should still expect to have a healthy pregnancy, as well as the baby.
  • HCG readings don’t produce as an accurate of a result as an ultrasound does.
  • Positive pregnancy results can only be read when 25 mlU/ml is read; 5mlU/ml will not produce accurate results.
  • The exact gestation of a woman’s pregnancy can be determined with HCG blood measurements and a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Do not use HCG levels to determine the gender, strength, or intelligence of the baby.

What is the Purpose of HCG?

The hormone responsible for preventing periods is HCG. Without HCG providing a thick lining for the uterus, pregnancies would be at risk because the lining could begin to shred. The placenta is formed by cells HCG produces. Therefore it is not typically present in the body unless women become pregnant. Under most circumstances, a woman’s HCG levels will double every two days upon conception. Throughout the progression of her pregnancy, these levels will slow down to every four days. However, the rise continues right up to her eleventh week.

Should a High HCG Level Cause Concern?

A couple of reasons could lead an expecting mother to have high levels of HCG. One reason could be that the pregnancy date was miscalculated. Another reason could be that she’s carrying multiples. Health care providers will recommend repeat testing to check for changes in the HCG level within 48-72 hours. None of these reasons, however, should cause the expecting mother to have concerns.

What About a Low HCG Level?

In these situations, this could be indicative of a miscarriage. This reading could also be because the pregnancy date was miscalculated. A blighted ovum or an ectopic pregnancy could also lead to low HCG readings. In each of these cases, tests are conducted by your OBGYN to receive confirmed results. These tests are often down in conjunction with others to include blood, ultrasound, and others to help develop a clearer understanding of why the HCG level is low.

For those who have a history of miscarriage or are bleeding, it may become routine for your OBGYN to check your HCG levels. Under normal circumstances, however, HCG levels aren’t checked routinely unless other problems arise.

Tips for HCG Levels

Expecting mothers can’t do much about their levels. Therefore, you’re causing yourself undue stress by worrying and agonizing over if they’re too high or too low. A high or low level of HCG has no link to miscarriage.

The only way to definitively know what your HCG level is to have your health care provider perform a blood test. It’s essential to remember, though, that these levels can change throughout the day, as well as from one day to another. HCG levels can also vary from week to week. Keeping that in mind, it will not provide you with much information if you only receive one blood test. The only information you’ll be receiving is what your HCG level is on that particular day. When you are given multiple blood test that is spread out over a period and can determine a pattern, it’s then that you can see a better indication of the pregnancy’s viability and status.

Why are “Her” Levels Higher Than Mine?

If you have a friend, sister, cousin, or whoever else that you know with HCG levels that are higher than yours, this is nothing to worry yourself over. These levels rise and drop off at different ranges, thus making what is “normal” differs for every woman. Therefore, it’s pointless for pregnant women to compare their HCG levels with each other. No part of their pregnancy is going to be alike, including hormone levels. So, if you’re an expecting mother who has found herself differing from others around her who are pregnant, it probably means nothing at all.

How is All of This Meaningful to Me?

The bottom line is simple. The only time expecting mothers should be worrying about their HCG levels is if their OBGYN tells them to do so. HCG has no actual effect on a woman’s pregnancy, itself, and it’s only responsible for nourishing the growing placenta.

When a woman has higher or lower levels of these hormones, their pregnancy will not experience any changes. However, the reason for these levels could be multiple pregnancies.

Expecting mothers don’t have to worry about their HCG levels having an impact on gestation or causing a miscarriage. It’s impossible to change HCG levels using dietary measures or supplements and, even if it were possible, the levels would not change the baby or pregnancy in any way.

The primary function of HCG is to provide confirmation of a woman’s pregnancy and, once this takes place, it can be forgotten about. The only time it really needs to be given any thought to is if advised to do so. Expectant mothers have many other things to think about without having this to add to the mix. Ignore other expecting mothers who are making attempts to compare their HCG levels because this information isn’t useful.

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