hCG and its role in pregnancy & receiving a positive pregnancy test
Doctors commonly know the details found behind hCG because they will understand the function and the role that it will play during a woman’s pregnancy process. This article will purposely discuss hCG, its purpose, how fast it will increase in the reproductive system and the time you will be testing for pregnancy during your cycle.
The first thing that we have to understand about this hormone is that it is the one that is secreted by the placenta. After the egg has matured, ovulation will occur, and then fertilisation or conception will be the next thing that will follow. A few days later, the egg that has been fertilised will implant in the uterus wall. That’s the point to start allowing the hCG hormone to flow. It is produced by the pregnancy cells and placental tissues. The production means that hCG will have to pass through the woman’s body, and that’s why you will find it present in either urine or blood.
The reproductive function of hCG
The egg maturing process will start in the ovarian follicle even before ovulation. The egg will be set free after the woman has ovulated, and the reproductive hormones will switch gears. Oestrogen, dominant during the early stages of pregnancy, will give way to progesterone. The major function of progesterone is to warm the body so that there is a fertile environment for fertilisation. There is also an elevation of progesterone that will prevent menstruation, always referred to as the first sign of pregnancy.
At this stage, the function of hCG will become clear. It will send a message to its counterpart, the corpus luteum, to keep the continuous flow of progesterone. A decrease in progesterone during the second half of a woman’s cycle means she will receive her period as normal. When conception and implantation occur, hCG secreted by the placental tissue will ensure the continued release of the progesterone hormone by the corpus luteum.
As we have seen earlier, the simple thing that occurs at this stage is keeping the body in a warmer environment so that menstruation will not occur. This temp should stay like that and never drop, even around the date that you expected your period.
hCG and Early Pregnancy Detection:
The presence of hCG in a woman’s body indicates pregnancy. The placenta produces this hormone shortly after the fertilised egg attaches to the uterine lining. As such, home pregnancy tests are designed to detect the presence of hCG in a woman’s urine. The sensitivity of these tests varies, with some being able to detect pregnancy as early as a week after conception. However, it’s important to note that hCG levels can vary greatly among women and from one pregnancy to another. Therefore, a negative test result in the early stages of pregnancy does not necessarily mean a woman is not pregnant.
hCG and Pregnancy Symptoms
The hormone hCG plays a crucial role in confirming and maintaining pregnancy and is responsible for some of the early symptoms of pregnancy. For instance, the rapid increase in hCG levels during the first trimester can lead to nausea and vomiting, commonly known as morning sickness. Also, hCG can cause frequent urination and fatigue, both common early pregnancy symptoms. As pregnancy progresses and hCG levels stabilise, these symptoms often lessen or disappear.
When can I begin testing for pregnancy during my cycle?
When you have 10 mIU hCG pregnancy tests rated with high sensitivity, you can test for pregnancy at around 7-10 days past ovulation. Testing early, such as 3DPO, 4DPO, 5DPO and 6DPO, is considered too early and can lead to misleading results. This is the time the level of hCG increases and passes the usual level mark. Not all women are the same; they will develop differently eventually.
Others will have slow progress when it comes to hCG development. When you get a negative test, you are advised to do consecutive tests after every 24-48 hours by using the first-morning urine sample. This is essential, yielding the highest pregnancy hormone hCG levels. When you get a positive pregnancy test, follow it up with the doctor after you get it two days in a row.
Testing for pregnancy at home
When testing for pregnancy, you will look for hCG in your urine. To know the right time, you should start testing for pregnancy. Let us try to answer that in the simple terms as possible.
Once ovulation occurs, the events at this timeline are essential for your understanding. Knowing that an embryo is still a free-floating unit in the womb is good when conception occurs. What will release hCG is when implantation has taken place.
Implantation does not occur during day one but after several days after conception; that’s an average of 6 days but can be between 6 & 12 days past ovulation. When implantation occurs, hCG is released, increasing after 2-3 days. This is exponential and is referred to as hCG doubling time. Using ovulation tests to track your cycle will allow you to tell how many days past ovulation you are and allow more accurate times to use a pregnancy test kit.
There are different forms of tests that you can undertake to know your pregnancy status. But the expensive process that existed initially is zeroing down to something that can be done within the four walls of your home.
Here are the two most well-known tests to receive your positive pregnancy test:
Pregnancy Strip tests
HPTs are the more affordable and cheaper option that is available on the market today. They don’t have any plastic casing on them and are thinner than the in-stream test. The results are as accurate as midstream tests. They require you to collect urine in a urine collection cup which might be time-consuming and messy. Still, this choice is the most popular pregnancy test due to being able to detect early pregnancy while being super affordable.
They are a bit larger and have a plastic area over their testing area. The casing ensures that you easily collect urine and keep them safe under a clear window. They have a wider testing panel, giving you an easier reading platform. The dip & read pregnancy and midstream tests have the same sensitivity and accuracy levels as the in-stream test. Choices always depend on what you want to use.
The Role of hCG in Maintaining pregnancy
Once pregnancy is established, hCG plays a crucial role in maintaining it. This hormone stimulates the corpus luteum, the temporary endocrine structure in female ovaries, to continue producing progesterone. Progesterone is vital in maintaining the uterine lining and preventing menstruation, supporting ongoing pregnancy. Without the signal from hCG, the corpus luteum would disintegrate, progesterone levels would drop, and the uterine lining would shed, leading to a miscarriage.
hCG and Pregnancy Health Monitoring
Beyond confirming and maintaining pregnancy, hCG levels can also serve as a tool for monitoring the health of a pregnancy. Doctors often order hCG blood tests in early pregnancy to ensure that hCG levels increase as they should. In a normal pregnancy, hCG levels roughly double every 48 to 72 hours in the first few weeks. If hCG levels are not rising appropriately, it could indicate a problem such as an ectopic pregnancy or a potential miscarriage. However, it’s important to remember that while hCG levels can provide valuable insights, they are just one piece of the puzzle in assessing pregnancy health. Other factors, such as ultrasound findings and maternal health, are also important.
hCG and Multiple Pregnancies
hCG levels can also provide clues about the type of pregnancy. For example, higher than average hCG levels could indicate multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets. Each developing embryo will have its placenta, each producing hCG. Therefore, the more placentas, the higher the hCG levels. However, it’s important to note that hCG levels alone cannot definitively confirm multiple pregnancies, and ultrasound is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
hCG and Pregnancy-related Conditions
Occasionally, unusually high or low hCG levels can indicate pregnancy-related conditions. For instance, extremely high hCG levels can signify a molar pregnancy, a rare condition where abnormal tissue grows in the uterus instead of a healthy embryo. On the other hand, low hCG levels could indicate an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. Both conditions require immediate medical attention. Therefore, while hCG is crucial for confirming and maintaining a healthy pregnancy, it is also a valuable tool for detecting potential pregnancy complications.
We are here for you
At Fertility2Family, we understand that the journey to parenthood is filled with hopes, dreams, and sometimes challenges. Our mission is to provide reliable, affordable, and easy-to-use fertility and pregnancy tests. From the earliest days of trying to conceive to confirming your pregnancy, we’re here to offer highly sensitive and accurate products. Trust Fertility2Family to be your partner in this significant chapter of your life. Our tests are designed with your needs in mind, ensuring you can take the first steps toward welcoming a new life with confidence and peace of mind.
Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified enrolled nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.