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The Pregnancy Hormone - hCG

Beta hCG Test (Pregnancy Blood Test)

Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is a hormone produced during pregnancy that is made by the developing embryo after conception and later by the syncytiotrophoblast (part of the placenta).

In most cases hCG levels will double every 31-72 hours in early pregnancy. The level will reach its peak at around 8-11 weeks of pregnancy and then will decline and level off for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Beta hCG Testing

There are two common types of hCG blood tests. A qualitative hCG test detects if hCG is present in the blood. This test will only provide a yes/no result for pregnancy (usually anything above 25 mIU/ml is considered positive for pregnancy). A quantitative hCG test (or beta hCG) measures the amount of hCG actually present in the blood. This test will provide an actual number.

When there is a concern about the health of the pregnancy, a single hCG reading is not enough information for most diagnoses. Multiple hCG tests done a couple of days apart give more accurate information and allow for comparison of the numbers.

The Numbers

In many early pregnancies, the hCG level will double every 31 to 72 hours. As the pregnancy progresses, hCG levels rise and the doubling time increases.

"Normal" Doubling Time
hCG levels Doubling Time
Under 1200 mIU/ml 31-72 hours
Between 1200 to 6000 mIU/ml 72-96 hours
Over 6000 mIU/ml more than 96 hours

hCG levels rise during the first 6 to 10 weeks of pregnancy then decline slowly during the second and third trimesters.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) Levels
From Conception hCG Level
0-1 Weeks 0 - 50 mIU/ml
1-2 Weeks 40 - 300 mIU/ml
3-4 Weeks 500 - 6,000 mIU/ml
1-2 Months 5,000 - 200,000 mIU/ml
2-3 Months 10,000 - 100,000 mIU/ml
2nd Trimester 3,000 - 50,000 mIU/ml
3rd Trimester 1,000 - 50,000 mIU/ml
Non-Pregnant Women < 5.0 mIU/ml
Postmenopausal Women < 9.5 mIU/ml
Important! Please keep in mind there is a huge variation in "normal" hCG levels at any given time in a pregnancy. These numbers and times are provided only as a guideline. If you have any concerns please consult with your physician or health care provider.
Beta hCG Doubling Time Calculator
Use this calculator to calculate the doubling time of two beta hCG samples by entering the values of the blood tests and the date and time of each test. Calculate Your Doubling Time »

Beta hCG Values Chart
View averages (max and min) as submitted by our members during their pregnancies. View Chart »

Should I Be Concerned?

Low hCG Level
A low hCG level can mean a variety of things and will usually be rechecked after 48-72 hours to evaluate how the level is changing. Remember, a normal pregnancy may have low hCG levels and still result in a perfectly healthy baby.

A low hCG level could indicate:
  • miscaluclation of your last menstrual period or ovulation date
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • possible miscarriage or blighted ovum
High hCG Level
A high hCG level can mean a variety of things and will usually be rechecked after 48-72 hours to see how the level is changing.

A high hCG level could indicate:
  • miscaluclation of your last menstrual period or ovulation date
  • molar pregnancy
  • multiple pregnancy (twins or more)
** It is not always the exact hCG level that is important but rather the change in the level.

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