HCG Levels During Pregnancy

HCG levels are directly related to a woman’s pregnancy. Also called as human chorionic gonadotropin, hCG is a hormone that is produced by the embryo soon after conception and later on by a part of the placenta known as the syncytiotrophoblast. Its primary function is to prevent the disintegration of the corpus luteum in the ovary which produces the progesterone which is essential to maintain a normal pregnancy.

Effect On Pregnancy

The levels of hCG in women can tell them that they are pregnant. It is produced by the embryo shortly after conception and by the placenta about a week after fertilization. When the embryo implants and the placenta attaches into the uterine lining the hCG then enters into the blood circulation and eventually excreted from the body from the kidneys into the urine.

The hCG production also sets a chain of events to happen. It helps maintain the production of progesterone which enriches the uterus with a thick lining of blood vessels that helps sustain the growing fetus. The hCG may also repel the immune cells of the mother, thereby protecting the fetus during the first trimester of the pregnancy.

HCG Level Testing

The hCG levels in females can be tracked to signal pregnancy. Common pregnancy test kits make use of measuring hCG levels in urine to determine if a woman is pregnant or not. HCG is measured in milliInternational Units per milliliter or mIU/ml.

An hCG level of under 5mIU/ml shows that a woman is not pregnant. An hCG level between 5 to 25 mIU/ml signifies that a woman may or may not be pregnant. This may require another test after two days or more. A pregnancy is determined when a woman has an hCG level of over 25 mIU/ml.

When testing for hCG levels, it should be noted that the urine levels are usually lower than the hCG levels found in the blood. Testing the blood for a rise in hCG levels is more sensitive and reliable than testing the levels in urine. One reason is that the rise in hCG levels can be determined earlier than in the urine.

Other hCG Facts

About 85 percent of normal pregnancies show a doubling of hCG levels every two to three days. But women should also bear in mind that hCG levels should not be the sole factor to determine a healthy pregnancy. There are women who may experience having low hCG levels and still deliver a healthy baby. Ultrasound results five to six weeks after gestation will provide a more accurate picture of the baby’s health than the hCG levels.