hCG Levels in Pregnancy
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is the "pregnancy hormone" that is secreted by the placenta which starts to develop after fertilization. It also keeps the corpus luteum producing progesterone after conception. A woman who is not pregnant has an hCG of less than 5 mIU/ml (this is a measure of milli international units per millitliter). Once a woman conceives, this measurement will double every two days. After 11 days of pregnancy, hCG can be detected with a blood test and some 12 to 14 days after being pregnant, it shows up in a urine test. This is why most at home pregnancy tests recommend waiting to take the test until you are two weeks overdue for your period.
HCG Numbers and Pregnancy
Here is a look at some hCG numbers:
3 weeks LMP (Last menstrual period) 5-50 mIU/ml
4 weeks LMP 5-426 mIU/ml
9-12 weeks LMP 25,700 - 288,000
The hCG level is at its highest between eight to 11 weeks of pregnancy. However, if you are pregnant with twins or multiples, the level will be at the high range. Higher levels could also indicate a molar pregnancy. If your hCG levels are higher than normal your doctor will probably choose to do an ultrasound to find out what is going on. He or she will then be able to confirm if you are indeed pregnant with multiples or if you have a molar pregnancy. Sometimes a women can be pregnant and have hCG levels that are not high enough. Your doctor may then recommend progesterone supplements in order to help keep your pregnancy.
hCG Levels and Fertility Treatments
However, some women are given hGG injections to trigger ovulation or to lengthen the luteal phase of their cycle, in which case trace amounts can remain in the system for as long as ten days and give a false positive on a pregnancy test. Pregnant women normally attain serum concentrations of 10 to 50 mIU/ml in the week following conception. A maximum level is reached by the second to third month, followed by a decrease in the third trimester. The most sensitive home pregnancy tests measure approximately 20 mIU/ml of hCG.
Morning Sickness Connection
The increase in hCG contributes significantly to all of your pregnancy symptoms especially morning sickness. Checking the hCG levels in blood as performed by your doctor is a much more sensitive test than a home pregnancy test and can detect pregnancy as early as 11 days after fertilization. Women are advised not to use their hCG levels to date a pregnancy. As seen above, these levels can vary. Instead try out our pregnancy due date calculator to figure out how far along in your pregnancy you are and to estimate your baby's approximate due date. Also read more about how medical professionals can figure out when your baby is due.
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