An hCG result normally spikes within the first two to four weeks after fertilization. It can double or even triple on any day, but without any need for alarm. Although it might, in some cases, indicate multiple pregnancies, high hCG can also occur in single conceptions. The hCG levels vary in every woman and each pregnancy. Therefore, the reading alone is not a reliable indicator of birth concerns and information. The only way to be positively assured of a healthy and viable pregnancy is by getting an ultrasound and advice from your OB-GYN.
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What is an hCG?
The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is the hormone that develops around the embryo in the placenta. It is used to confirm a positive pregnancy that is detectable through urine and blood sample tests.
In as early as the first week of conception, the hCG level already builds up but may still go undetected through urine tests.
When using a pregnancy test kit, a positive result is almost always correct. However, a negative pregnancy result is sometimes untrue.
You may need to repeat the test after a couple more weeks to get an absolute result.
The blood serum pregnancy testing is more reliable than the urine test for confirming the conception. It reads the hCG level in the blood to see if it falls within the range classifiable as pregnancy.
The result can vary widely, but is not always a cause for worry among hopeful moms.
The average hCG levels
When doing the pregnancy test at home, you probably only watch out for a red line or two to confirm the result.
The urine hCG test that you commonly do at home is the qualitative type of pregnancy test.
It means that the test kit will only tell you whether or not it detected the hormones in your urine – so, just positive or negative.
Thus, it is unreliable and may at times yield a false-positive or false-negative result.
The pregnancy blood serum test, on the other hand, is more specific in terms of quantitative values. It may also sometimes produce a false result, but it is uncommon.
Average hCG hormone levels in every week of pregnancy in the first trimester
The unit is measured in International Unit per Liter (IU/L).
|Week (Since LMP)||Average Level (IU/L)|
|3||6 – 70|
|4||10 – 750|
|5||200 – 7,100|
|6||160 – 32,000|
|7||3,700 – 160,000|
|8||32,000 – 150,000|
|9||64,000 – 150,000|
|10||47,000 – 190,000|
|12||28,000 – 210,000|
|14||14,000 – 63,000|
|15||12,000 – 71,000|
|16||9,000 – 56,000|
The hCG levels increase and will often peak on the 8th to 12th week of pregnancy.
After the 12th week, it will start to decline and level off until the baby’s full-term. That’s why it is important, if possible, to wait until the period where the pregnancy test gives out a more reliable result.
Each lab result is different, and the normal range is just a guide.
Your doctor will still look at the result based on the pregnant woman’s age, health, and other underlying conditions.
Thus, the spike in levels, even if it has tripled overnight, may still be normal to you.
What different levels Of hCG means
The level of hCG is not only an indicator of pregnancy results. It is also an important source of pregnancy information.
Clinically, it is used to identify whether it is a normal or complicated pregnancy, in danger of miscarriage, ectopic, and other pathologic info.
When the hCG shows an elevated average, the probable reasons are:
- Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Molar pregnancy (abnormal fertilization; no baby was formed)
- Chromosome problem (Down Syndrome)
Again, only your doctor has the sole knowledge and authority in identifying the causes of high hCG based on given factors.
Even if you do have a normal and viable pregnancy, the values can change and become inconsistent.
- Early pregnancy
- Ectopic pregnancy
Low hCG levels are often the result of testing early in the pregnancy when the hormone is still undetectable.
When it happens, you may get re-tested after a couple of weeks to verify the result.
Sometimes the low result indicates a possible miscarriage or blighted ovum.
In some cases, a low hCG, or those that fluctuate drastically, also mean an ectopic pregnancy.
But a single test alone is not enough to confirm the pregnancy information.
Your doctor may either give you a couple more weeks for the pregnancy to progress. Or, he may perform a series of tests and an ultrasound to confirm his findings.
What does it mean when a non-pregnant has high HCG?
Men and women alike have hCG hormones in a small amount that only splurge up in women during pregnancy.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the normal range of hCG in non-pregnant women is between 0.02 to 0.8 IU/L.
High levels of hCG can be a sign of a tumor or cancer.
Can you do a pregnancy blood serum test at home?
There are companies like the SELFCheck in the UK that offers a finger-prick blood result product.
It claims to be more reliable than the urine test, provided you do it correctly.
It is a new entrant product that may also become available as an innovative alternative to urine pregnancy testing.
When to take a pregnancy test?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the pregnancy is detectable 11 days after conception through a blood test.
When doing the urine test, it may confirm the pregnancy at 12 to 14 days.
The hCG level in pregnant women tells information about the fetus’s progress. It confirms the pregnancy or diagnoses other pathological details about it.
When the hCG doubles or triples, it is generally nothing to worry about unless your doctor identifies other factors that may have caused it.
The readings are just guidelines, and the doctor’s diagnosis will come from the ultrasound result.
There are a lot of normal pregnancies that deliver healthy babies despite the varying level of the mom’s pregnancy hormone.
So, don’t jump to conclusions and talk to your doctor to clear away your confusion and concerns.