HCG is the abbreviation for "Human Chorionic Gonadotropin" also known as the pregnancy hormone.
hCG levels continue to rise after implantation until about 10-12 weeks gestation, at which point the hCG level will stabilize or drop.
Pregnancy tests detect the amount of hCG in the blood or urine and a pregnancy test becomes positive when there are sufficient levels of hCG.
Blood hCG testing is much more sensitive than urine hCG testing, therefore a blood hCG test can detect pregnancy several days before a urine pregnancy test.
There are two types of hCG tests: qualitative hCG tests, which detect the presence of the hormone in urine or blood, and quantitative hCG tests, which measure the amount of hCG present in the blood.
Quantitative hCG tests are also known as beta hCG tests (doctors have nicknamed the test a "quant beta").
The hCG hormone can typically be detected in the urine eight to fourteen days after conception, and in the blood as early as six days after implantation - before the first missed menstrual period.
Measuring hCG levels in early pregnancy is the best way for healthcare professionals to detect early abnormalities after the pregnancy has been established.
In 85 percent of pregnancies, hCG levels double every 72 hours before peaking between the eight and eleven weeks of pregnancy.
After peaking, the levels begin to decline between the twelfth and sixteenth weeks of pregnancy, and then level off until after childbirth.
Progesterone's major job is to maintain the thickness of the uterine lining. A thick lining increases the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
If there is no hCG present in your body, the lining will begin to shed and you will begin your period shortly after.
Basically, in a normal menstrual cycle, the corpus luteum is created right after ovulation, and it has a lifespan of 12-13 days (producing progesterone).
When pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum disappears, progesterone production stops, and the menstrual period occurs after a day or two.
The most important thing to remember when examining hCG levels in early pregnancy is that every pregnancy is different, and every woman is different.
What is normal for one woman is not necessarily normal for another woman. Some women have low hCG levels throughout their pregnancies and have healthy babies.
Some have extremely high hCG levels in early pregnancy and can still go on to miscarry.
For each day and week of early pregnancies there is a very wide variation of "normal" hCG values which makes it impossible to determine from a single value what it means exactly except to say that you are pregnant or that you are pregnant within a wide range of days and weeks.
A single hCG level...
It makes little sense to follow the hCG level above 6,000 mIU/ml as the increase is normally slower at this point and not related to how well the pregnancy is progressing.
After two to three months the hCG levels will slow even further and eventually hCG levels may even decline before reaching a plateau for the duration of the pregnancy.
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