Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
The hCG hormone better known as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is produced at the time of pregnancy. It is constructed by those cells which form the placenta, nourishes the fertilized egg and then attaches to the uterine wall. hCG levels can initially be detected through a blood test about 11 days after the egg has been fertilized post conception. Urine tests can also detect its presence 12-14 days post conception. Normally, hCG levels are known to double every 3 days with the levels reaching their peak in the first 8 to 11 weeks of pregnancy and then gradually declining as well as leveling off during the remaining course of the pregnancy.
Key points on hCG levels
What does a low hCG level indicate?
A low hCG level can be the indicator of quite a few things. Those women who have low hCG levels need to be tested every 48-72 hours to determine how the level is changing. Below are a few symptoms of low hCG levels:
What does a high hCG level indicate?
A high hCG level can indicate many things and women with high hCG readings should get themselves rechecked every 48-72 hours to determine the changing levels. Indicators of high hCG levels are as follows:
Are routine hCG checkups normal?
Doctors do not routinely check your hCG levels until and unless you are displaying symptoms of a major problem. Symptoms include severe menstrual cramps as well as bleeding, among many others. A history of miscarriage can also be considered as a ground for regular hCG level checkups.
What happens to hCG levels after a pregnancy loss?
Women can expect their hCG levels to return to a pre-pregnant stage about 4-6 weeks post pregnancy loss. This can differ depending on the nature of occurrence of the loss (D&C Procedure, Abortion, Miscarriage or Natural Delivery) and the percentage of hCG levels at the time of pregnancy loss. Doctors will continue to monitor hCG levels post pregnancy loss to ensure the levels reduce to less than 5.
What can cause interference to hCG levels?
Nothing should cause interference with hCG levels except for medications that are known to contain hCG. These medications are generally used to treat fertile incompetence. Your doctor will inform you about the effect hCG medication may have on the hCG level reading test. Other medications such as pain relievers, antibiotics, hormonal contraception, and other hormonal medicines are not known to have caused any effect on the test designed to measure hCG.
Use of hCG in treating infertility
The body is known to manufacture 2 types of gonadotropins namely the Luteinizing hormone (LH) and the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). After production of these hormones by the pituitary gland, the production of other sex hormones is triggered by the gonadotropins. So, gonadotropins are important agents in sperm and egg production, as well as in facilitating the development of male and female physical characteristics such as voice, hair, muscle and breast development.
Recombinant human follicle-stimulating hormone (r-hFSH) and human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) are fertility drugs based on gonadotropin. hMG consists of natural LH and FSH, from the urine of postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women are known to produce large quantities of gonadotropins, which are expelled through urine. r-hFSH on the other hand is genetically synthesized in controlled lab environments.
The human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG is quite similar to LH. Studies reveal that hCG contains equal amounts of both LH and FSH. These hormones play a critical role in egg production.
How does it work?
The Luteinizing hormones (LH) along with the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are hormones that are crucial for healthy ovulation (production of eggs). Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) or recombinant human FSH (r-hFSH) injections are given to those women who have unfavorable hormone levels and are not ovulating effectively. The injections are administered at an average, for a period of 12 days. These injections are known to help in the development of mature follicles necessary for getting the ovary ready for ovulation. A dose of human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG hormone is then administered to stimulate ovulation in women.
LH tends to stimulate the production of the testosterone hormone in those men who have low FSH and testosterone levels. Through a semen analysis, abnormal hormone levels can be easily identified. Abnormal hormone levels are responsible for inhibiting the production of sperm causing infertility in men. For such men, doctors may prescribe a combination of these hormones as treatment for sperm production.
Men are likely to be administered the hCG injection thrice a week until the testosterone levels rise up to a normal range, which may take up to 6 months. Administration of the injections will continue with hCG injections twice a week and FSH or hMG injections thrice a week, until the sperm count rises to levels that are considered normal.
Though hCG administration has greatly helped in treating fertility, the use of this drug comes with a few side-effects which are as follows:
So, human chorionic gonadotropin is a critical element in the process of human reproduction. It has shown its immense potential by proving to be a stimulating agent for ovulation in women and a facilitator for increase in sperm count for men. hCG injections are not available over the counter according to FDA laws.
There are some people who associate hCG with weight loss companies that are selling over the counter hCG products rumored to cause weight loss among users. These companies are breaking the laws set by the FDA and there is no proof that hCG administration can help in weight loss.
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