Hormone of Pregnancy: HCG and Early Pregnancy Symptoms

The connection between those two fateful lines and hCG.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is produced during pregnancy, by the placenta. This is actually the hormone that pregnancy tests are designed to detect. The level of hCG is often relevant to the viability of a pregnancy. Following a miscarriage, the hCG is frequently tested to ensure that the miscarriage is complete and no further specialized care is required.

In nearly all healthy, viable pregnancies the amount of hCG present will double every two to three days following conception. An hCG reading of 25mIU/ml or higher is considered positive for pregnancy, but a reading of 5mIU/ml or less is considered negative. Once the hCG reading reaches between 1,000 and 2,000mIU/ml a gestational sac should be visible through a transvaginal ultrasound, another indication that a pregnancy is developing as planned.

At 25 to 40 weeks past a woman’s last menstrual period her hCG reading will typically register somewhere between 3,640 and 117,000 mIU/ml. Every woman’s reading may be slightly different, because the hormone develops in different concentrations in every woman. What matters is that the hormone has continued to develop or double at a normal rate.

In early pregnancy both extremely low and extremely high hCG readings can be cause for concern. However, most women will fall well within the average range and go on to have successful, healthy pregnancies. It is unusual for doctors to check hCG levels throughout pregnancy, as it is primarily used to detect pregnancy. However, individuals who are struggling with fertility or prone to certain conditions may undergo more in depth testing.

Visit the American Pregnancy Association to learn more about the role of hCG in human pregnancy.


Hormones of Pregnancy Series: For the Love of Oxytocin



Often referred to as the love hormone, oxytocin is at least partially responsible for the continuation of life on Earth. A mammalian neuromodulator hormone, oxytocin facilitates birth, bonding, and breastfeeding. Though it also plays a likely role in community building, sexual interest, anxiety, and social recognition it is best known as the birth hormone because its very existence typically triggers labor.

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Hormones of Pregnancy Series: Flexible Effects of Relaxin

During pregnancy a special type of hormone produced by the placenta, known as relaxin, is released in abundance. The hormone, quite fittingly, causes muscles to relax and stretch. This stretching is necessary to help the body accommodate an ever-growing uterus as it stretches from around the size of a tennis ball, to something large enough to support a seven pound baby or two. This hormone also helps to expand the blood vessels without raising blood pressure, help the ligaments to stretch, and all around loosen up a pregnant woman’s body.

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