Understanding HCG Levels in Pregnancy
What is hCG?
The hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is only generated by the placenta during pregnancy. Pregnancy’s first trimester sees a rise in hCG levels, which occurs soon after implantation (when the fertilized egg attaches into the uterine lining) measurable in urine. The hCG levels in your urine are measured when you use a home pregnancy test.
How Do hCG Levels Change Throughout Pregnancy?
While your embryo develops during early pregnancy, your hCG levels will rise. After the embryo implants into the uterine lining, HCG is first produced. This happens typically six days following ovulation but can take up to 12 days.
During the first several weeks of pregnancy, however, hCG levels typically double in concentration every 29–53 hours. HCG levels start to decline after 8 to 10 weeks and eventually stop rising altogether.
This indicates that your hCG level, which is expressed in mIU/ml or IU/l, may be 2 at the start of pregnancy. It will then move to 4, 8, and 16, and then dramatically increase, moving into the 25,000 to 50,000 range. When it reaches about 100,000, it reverses course and starts to decline. Your hCG level will most likely maintain around 10,000 throughout the remainder of your pregnancy.
Why Do hCG Levels Fluctuate So Much?
There is a wide range of what is considered a normal hCG level. It’s challenging to determine much about pregnancy from only one hCG measurement due to the wide normal range.
HCG levels can be high or low and yet signify a healthy pregnancy. However, examining trends can help doctors learn more. hCG levels typically peak between 90,000 and 100,000 mIU/mL during a typical pregnancy, with levels doubling every 48 hours. Any major increase or decrease should be examined by your OB-GYN.
What Causes Low hCG Levels?
Low hCG levels could indicate an extremely early pregnancy or a pregnancy that is miscarrying. Blighted ovums, in which the fertilized egg fails to develop properly, and ectopic pregnancies, in which the embryo implants outside of the uterus—typically in the fallopian tube—are additional causes. Another possible cause is a miscalculated gestational age, which would indicate that the pregnancy isn’t as far along as initially believed. If a person has irregular menstrual cycles and is not ovulating on day 14 of their cycle, this is more likely to occur.
What Causes High hCG Levels?
Higher than 100,000 mIU/mL hCG concentrations may signify an unhealthy pregnancy. A placental tumor or molar pregnancy, in which an unviable egg implants in the uterus and secretes hCG, are examples of possible causes. Higher levels of hCG may also mean pregnancy with multiples, or an inaccurate measurement of gestational age (the pregnancy could be further along than expected).
All information presented herein serves as a general guideline, and is not intended as dispensing any medical advice(s). User(s) should consult their doctor to seek further clarification for any doubt. It is recommended to refer to this guide with sole discretion, thereby we shall not be held responsible for any part of the information as presented.
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