Human chorionic gonadotropin more commonly known as hCG is a hormone present in your body when you are pregnant. It’s secreted by the placenta once an embryo has embedded itself into your uterine lining. When you take a pregnancy test, it is hCG that is detected!
You secrete it in your urine during pregnancy, but don’t test too early! For the test to be able to detect the hormone, it has to have reached certain levels in the body. Once it’s time for your period to start, that’s the ideal time to test.
- hCG levels start very low and if you test too early you might get a false negative pregnancy test (that’s when you are pregnant but the test says you aren’t).
- The levels of this hormone vary WILDLY between women and between pregnancies. For example, it’s normal to have a range of approximately 1,000-50,000 miU/mL when you are 6 weeks pregnant!
- When you are getting your levels checked what really matters is that the number is doubling every 48-72 hours. If it’s not, your pregnancy might not be viable. 😢 You will need an ultrasound to confirm this as a miscarriage cannot be diagnosed by using hCG levels only.
- The doubling only happens at the beginning of pregnancy. After the first trimester, levels start to plateau.
- It hasn’t been 100% proven, but it’s thought likely that hCG is the culprit of morning sickness and nausea in pregnancy. Women with really high levels of hCG usually have worse morning sickness.
- Very high levels of this hormone can also mean that you are pregnant with multiples! Because the levels can vary between women, this is not always the case and you’ll need an ultrasound to find out for sure.
- Not all women need their hCG checked in pregnancy. Usually, it’s done if women have a history of miscarriage or other issues like ectopic or molar pregnancy.