HCG Levels During Pregnancy

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on January 31, 2012

Human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, is a hormone which is produced during pregnancy. it is produced by the cells that form the placenta. The production of HCG starts immediately after the egg attaches itself to the uterine walls. It is very important to keep a regular check on HCG levels during pregnancy. Any ups and downs in HCG can cause many complications, so special care should be taken to maintain a regular level. HCG maintains the corpus luteum, which is responsible for progesterone production during early pregnancy.

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Progesterone helps keep the lining of the uterus thick for a healthy pregnancy. If the HCG levels are low, or not present in a woman's body, the lining of the uterus will begin to shed and the menstrual cycle will begin. So the production of HCG plays a critical part in your pregnancy. HCG levels in the body can be easily known through the quadruple screening test or maternal serum.

Low HCG levels may indicate a wrong calculation of the conception date, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy. However, it is also possible to have a healthy pregnancy with low levels of HCG. Just as low levels or high levels of HCG may indicate a miscalculation of the date of conception, it may also indicate a multiple pregnancy (twins) or a molar pregnancy. An HCG level less than 5mIU/ml is considered negative for pregnancy and anything above 25mIU/ml is considered positive for pregnancy. HCG levels vary as the pregnancy progresses from week to week.

The HCG level rises steeply during the first 14 to 16 weeks of the last menstrual period and doubles every 48 to 72 hours. After this, the HCG levels keeps on decreasing. In the initial period when the HCG level is rising, it gives a lot of information about the pregnancy and the infant's health.

HCG levels during pregnancy based on weeks since the last menstrual period (LMP):

3 weeks LMP            5 - 50 mIU/ml
4 weeks LMP            5 - 426 mIU/ml
5 weeks LMP            18 - 7,340 mIU/ml
6 weeks LMP            1,080 - 56,500 mIU/ml
7 - 8 weeks LMP       7, 650 - 229,000 mIU/ml
9 - 12 weeks LMP      25,700 - 288,000 mIU/ml
13 - 16 weeks LMP    13,300 - 254,000 mIU/ml
17 - 24 weeks LMP    4,060 - 165,400 mIU/ml
25 - 40 weeks LMP    3,640 - 117,000 mIU/ml
non pregnant            55-200 ng/ml

These numbers are only a guideline. It isn't the absolute value that matters in these results, but the change in value. Each and every woman's HCG level rises differently. The HCG level itself does not matter as much as the rate of change in the HCG level in your blood. A healthcare provider may recheck your levels if you are bleeding, experiencing severe cramps, or have a history of miscarriage.

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