HCG in pregnancy

We hear the term a lot in pregnancy but what does it stand for and what is it?

It stands for human chorionic gonadotropin and it is a hormone in the woman’s body which signals pregnancy by its increasing or decreasing levels tested in the blood or urine. The symptoms of early pregnancy such as feeling emotional, nausea and breast tenderness all comes down to the HCG hormone surging around the woman’s body. The levels double every 48- 72 hours generally and reach their peak at approximately 8-11 weeks within the first trimester. After the first 3 months or first trimester of pregnancy the levels stabilise and for some the ‘uncomfortable’ pregnancy symptoms decrease. The strength of the symptoms depends on the woman’s unique body and on how many embryos she may be carrying, but symptoms can differ for each woman. A blood test showing results above 25mlU/ml is classed as a positive pregnancy. The higher the levels the possibility of carrying more than one child. HCG is produced roughly a week after the egg is released and fertilised. It is produced in the cells that go on to form the placenta. The early placenta tissue sends a message to where the egg was made in the ovarian follicle and this stimulates the oestrogen and progesterone hormones to which the body gets ready to create life in the uterus.

By doing a pregnancy test these HCG levels produce the blue lines on the urine stick but exact figures can be had by having a blood sample taken after your missed period. Some women have slightly higher level to begin with and some women’s levels may take time and catch up in a shorter time frame. HCG levels cannot be compared as everyone’s bodies are so different but do seek medical assistance should you have any concerns or questions about your pregnancy. It is worth mentioning though that some women may get a false reading on a pregnancy test if taken to early or if their levels run high normally. These levels do not determine a healthy baby, gender or the gestation and these levels are best seen in a pattern as they give a far more accurate reading of the pregnancy.


Written by J Gibbs

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