hCG Levels During Pregnancy- What is Normal?

What is hCG?

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), also called pregnancy hormone is a hormone secreted by the placenta, in a human female body, after fertilization and conceiving. 

It is produced in the placenta by a process called syncytiotrophoblast. This hormone is a glycoprotein composed of 237 amino acids. The hormone allows the secretion of progesterone which nourishes the uterus with a broad lining of blood vessels and capillaries to strengthen the growing fetus. Progesterone also prevents menstruation from occurring at the time of pregnancy.

In simple words, hCG nourishes the fetus and helps in preventing pregnancy loss

As the embryo continues to develop, the hCG levels in a pregnant woman increase. Due to its highly negative charge, hCG repels the immune cells of a mother and protects the fetus during the first trimester. Once the placenta is fully formed, the contribution of this hormone is no longer necessary. The levels then decrease automatically. 

Research shows that human Chorionic Gonadotropin levels are linked to morning sickness in pregnant women. It is also the reason behind other pregnancy symptoms. Like any other gonadotropins, hCG can be extracted from the urine of a pregnant woman. HCG can also be used in fertility treatment as it is clinically proven to prompt evolution in the ovaries as well as motivate the testosterone production.

hCG Tests

The amount of HCG in a person’s blood can give some information about pregnancy and the general health of the baby. 

There are two common types of tests to detect hCG in our bodies. A quantitative analysis investigates the presence of this hormone in the blood. The qualitative test finds out the amount of hCG present in the blood. 

It takes about two weeks to detect hCG in urine. A home pregnancy test can detect hCG in urine. Although these tests can only confirm if one’s human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone’s level is high enough to indicate pregnancy. 

You can find out your exact hCG counting with a blood test to confirm whether you are pregnant or not. 

hCG tests are reliable and mostly accurate. But the result from an ultrasound after 5/6 week gestation is perfect than using hCG numbers. Diagnosis by ultrasound findings should not be made until the hCG level reaches a specific number. 

hCG During Pregnancy

  1. The level of Gonadotropin hormone depends typically on your general health and your body’s capability to hold the pregnancy.
  2. As the pregnancy proceeds further from the preliminary stage, the hCG level tends to get higher, and it becomes double about every 96 hours.
  3. The Gonadotropin level is not the yardstick to date a pregnancy as it may vary most often.
  4. It is not necessary to check your hCG level regularly until you have a genuine problem.
  5. Sometimes, a single reading is not considered enough. Multiple tastings are advised to probe the matter effectively.
  6. Making too much of hCG numbers is not necessarily required.
  7. After a pregnancy loss, a woman can anticipate her level to return to a non-pregnant range. 

hCG Levels Measurement 

hCG hormone is measured in international units per milliliter/ mL). An hCG level can first be monitored or measured by a blood test about 10 days after conception or detected about 12-15 days after conception by a urine test.

hCG Levels – Healthy | High | Low

hCG levels can fluctuate tremendously from day-to-day, person-to-person, and pregnancy to pregnancy. Low levels in hCG are entirely normal in early pregnancies. It starts to increase every 48 hours and reaches its peak in the time between 6 to 12 weeks after the occurrence of the last menstrual period (LMP) and then begins to decrease. 

So it is evident that the hCG levels are highest towards the end of the first trimester and gradually decline during the rest of pregnancy time. An hCG level of less than five mlU/ mL is considered harmful for pregnancy, while anything about 25mIU/mL is deemed to be positive in pregnancy. An hCG level between 6 and 24 /mL is regarded as a vag area and the person associated needs to be retested to confirm pregnancy.

Here is a list of hCG levels in women-

non-pregnant womanless than 10 U/L
borderline pregnancy10 to 25 U/L
positive pregnancymore than 25 U/L
pregnant woman 4 weeks after the LMP (1-2 weeks before the missed period)0 to 750 U/L
pregnant woman, 5 weeks after the LMP (a week after the missed period)200 to 7,000 U/L
pregnant woman (about 6 weeks after LMP)200 to 32,000 U/L
pregnant woman (about 7th weeks after LMP )3,000 to 160,000 U/L
pregnant woman (about 8-12 weeks after LMP)32,000 to 210,000 U/L
pregnant woman( about 13 to 16 weeks after LMP)9,000 to 210,000 U/L
pregnant woman( about 16 to 29 weeks after LMP)1,400 to 53,000 U/L
pregnant woman(about 29 to 41 weeks after LMP) 940 to 60,000 U/L
The numbers mentioned are merely a guideline. Level of hCG can act differently and varies from person to person. Sometimes, despite having a low count of hCG throughout pregnancy, a woman can give birth to a perfectly healthy baby.

According to healthcare experts, in a healthy pregnancy, hCG levels increase at least 50% every 48 hours. They generally peak at around ten weeks. Unless you have a complicated pregnancy, you need not check hCG levels often.

If you are bleeding or experiencing severe cramping, or have a history of miscarriage, then multiple testings of HCG can be done to get a more accurate assessment of the situation.

What Does Low-Level hCG Indicate?

If your report show low hCG levels, it is advisable that the issue should be rechecked within 48 to 72 hours to find out the frequency of changing levels.

 It can indicate-

  • Miscalculation of pregnancy dating.
  • possible miscarriage
  • ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg is rooted in the fallopian tube)

What Does a High hCG Level Mean?

The high level of hCG can be-

  • miscalculation of pregnancy dating 
  • molar pregnancy(abnormal growth of cells that usually develop in the placenta)
  • multiple pregnancies 
  • problems with the growth of a baby 
  • abnormal growth in the uterus or ovaries or certain types of cancer( in case of women who are not pregnant )
  • liver or gastrointestinal disorders

Some health conditions may intervene in hCG levels and can cause a false positive indication. Certain types of cancers (breast, kidney, or lung) and early miscarriages are among them. Some antibiotics, too, can interfere in test results. Medications that contain hCG may affect the hCG levels as well. All the other medicines, including antibiotics, pain-killers, or additional hormonal supplementation, may not have any effect on a test correlated to hCG.

Levels of hCG in a person’s blood do not provide the diagnosis. They only indicate the issues to be investigated. If you have some queries and concerns about your hCG level, talk to your doctor, or any other health care professional who is an expert in this field.

How to Increase hCG Levels?

  • Take hCG tests repeatedly for accurate results.
  • Talk to your doctor about the right hCG methods as an option. Discuss all ailments, conditions, and addictions
  • Get your hCG dose. The dose of hCG depends on the levels of all hormones in your body, prescriptions you’re taking, etc. The normal dose is 5,000-10,000 units. 
  • Once you start getting hCG shots, you will need to keep a record of your basal body temperature. Follow your doctor for your treatment.
  • Stay away from products declaring to increase hCG levels naturally. They do more harm than good.

Farha Naaz

Farha Naaz is a mother of a 10-month old baby.