The Human Choronic Gonadotropin or the Pregnancy hormone is responsible for a lot during pregnancy. In fact it’s the pregnancy hCG levels that will usually alert a woman first to the fact of her pregnancy and this is the hormone that is produced by the same cells that form the placenta that will nourish a baby through pregnancy.
How pregnancy hCG levels alter and progress
The levels of the pregnancy hormones are extremely low at the beginning of the pregnancy; at three weeks after the last monthly period, it is as low as 5 to 50 mIU/mL.
However the hormone levels then increase very rapidly. Every two to three days, the levels of hCG in a pregnant woman’s body become double until about the 11th week of the pregnancy. Though we may think that the level of hCG is useful and indicative of how far along a pregnancy is it is usually not used to date a pregnancy since the levels can vary greatly.
The earliest that pregnancy hCG levels can usually be detected is by a blood test, which can yield positive results earlier than the normal drug store pregnancy test that uses a urine sample to measure the levels of the hormone.
A blood test will detect the pregnancy hormone as few as 11 days after conception, but in a urine test, it may not be detectable until about 14 days after conception.
What hCG levels in pregnancy indicate
It isn’t just confirmation of a pregnancy that hCG indicates; there are many other indications that it can be used for. If levels of the pregnancy hormone are detected to be low, it could be because of a simple miscalculation of the dates of a pregnancy.
However it could also mean that there are chances of a blighted ovum or a miscarriage of the pregnancy. Lower pregnancy hCG levels may also indicate that it is an ectopic pregnancy which needs emergency medical intervention.
Similarly higher levels of the pregnancy hormones are also indicative of certain things: again it could be a miscalculation of the dates, but it could also indicate that the pregnancy is a multiple one. Twins and other multiples elevate hCG levels more than in singleton pregnancies. There is also a slight chance that a molar pregnancy is causing the levels to raise.
Medications, other than fertility treatments don’t generally affect hCG levels one way or the other, so if levels are higher or lower than expected, this could be cause for concern in some cases. However this is not necessarily the case because pregnancy hCG levels vary very widely during the first 4 weeks of gestation. This is why home pregnancy test kits may also throw up false negative results in the very early weeks.
When it may be it necessary to check hCG levels
Routine testing of pregnancy hCG levels is not usually indicated. However if a woman has a history of miscarriage, if there is any bleeding, cramping and so on, the test may be repeated. Also doctors could repeat the test if there is an apprehension of something else being wrong that they want to detect.