IVF Babble

Understanding hCG levels

We turned to Dr. Jana Bechthold from Clinica Tambre for some help in understanding what hCG means when it comes to finding out if your treatment has worked and to explain why it is important to see the ridiculously tough two week wait through until the end

What does hCG stand for?

hCG stands for (beta) human Chorionic Gonadotropin.

Where does it come from?

hCG is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy.

Do you only have this hormone if you are pregnant? If yes, when does this hormone kick in?

hCG is only made during pregnancy. Your body starts to produce hCG just after you conceive, and hCG levels increase steadily during the first trimester. hCG-tests allow us to signal a pregnancy and to monitor the development of an early pregnancy. hCG can first be detected by a blood test about 11 days after conception and about 12-14 days after conception by a urine test.

During pregnancy we will also find increased levels of estradiol and progesterone.

Can your hCG level rise if you are miscarrying?

In the event of a miscarriage, hCG levels typically decrease. But there are cases of miscarrying in which hCG rises slowly or does not decrease.

Can dehydration affect hCG levels?

Your hCG levels should not be affected by dehydration, although severe dehydration during pregnancy can lead to pregnancy complications. It is important to avoid dehydration during pregnancy.

Can anything affect hCG levels?

Miscarriage, molar pregnancy or certain fertility drugs can affect the level of hCG. In case of twin-pregnancy it is possible that we see increased hCG levels. 

Why is it recommended that you avoid doing a home pregnancy test?

An early urine hCG test (if negative) is less reliable than a blood test. If you do a pregnancy test too early, you could be pregnant, but there may not be enough hCG in your body to give a positive test result.

When it does kick in, should you feel symptoms?

Some women notice symptoms like morning sickness, smell sensitivity, and fatigue at early pregnancy. Although you should not worry if you do not feel any symptoms, it does not mean that you are not pregnant. 

Can you talk us through the HCG levels and what they should be from the moment you have the embryo transfer if the transfer was successful? 

In the first four weeks of pregnancy, hCG levels will typically double about every two to three days. The change in level is more important than the actual number, which can vary from patient to patient and from pregnancy to pregnancy. The numbers are just a guideline.

A hCG blood test result greater than 5 mIU/mL is generally considered positive. 12 days after embryo transfer the hCG level should at least be at 76 mIU/mL to predict in pregnancy outcome. In some cases, it is necessary to repeat the hCG test after some days.

hCG levels:

Pregnancy 1-2 weeks: 5-120 mIU/ml

Pregnancy 2-4 weeks: 13-1,175 mIU/ml

Pregnancy 4-6 weeks: 45-80,500 mIU/ml

Pregnancy 6-16 weeks: 2,600-175,304 mIU/ml

Pregnancy >16 weeks: 21,160-65,730 mIU/ml

If you have any further questions about hCG levels, drop us a line at info@ivfbabble.com or you can reach Dr. Jana Bechthold by contacting Clinica Tambre directly by clicking here

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