Being Pregnant

What hCG Levels in Pregnancy Really Mean

hCG levels is a common topic of conversation for newly pregnant mums. What is it? What hCG levels are normal? What does a high hCG level mean? When should I expect hCG levels to go down? Allow Mum Central clear a few things up!

First things first, what is hCG? 

hCG’s full name is human chorionic gonadotropin, but this is a mouthful and sounds like an STD so we’re going to stick to hCG for now.

hCG is a hormone, often referred to as the ‘pregnancy hormone’. Everyone has a teeny tiny bit of hCG in their bodies but it plays a pretty important role in pregnancy. During this time, your hCG levels will rise and rise and rise, triggering your body to produce another hormone, progesterone.

hCG, progesterone and estrogen all work together to build the lining of the uterus and stop your body from releasing more eggs.

hCG levels in pregnancy

Pregnancy tests work by measuring the hCG levels. Most home tests can detect levels of 20 mIU/ml or more. Blood tests can detect hCG hormone levels as low as 5 to 10 mIU/ml.

So, if you see a pink line, it means your hCG levels are reading higher than 20 mUI/ml.

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In the first 9-10 weeks of your pregnancy, your hCG levels will continue to rise but the amount of hCG detected can vary immensely. For example, two women could both be 6 weeks pregnant but one with an hCG level of 200 and another with an hCG level of 20,000.

Usually, around the 9-10 week marker, your hCG levels will start to go down again and normally flatline around the 10,000 mIU/ml mark. This is because, around this time, your placenta takes over making the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This means hCG is no longer needed to stimulate the ovary to make hormones.

hCG levels chart 

Here are the hCG level ranges for the first 18 weeks of pregnancy

Pregnancy weekRange of hCG levels in milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/mL)
3 weeks5–72 mIU/mL
4 weeks10–708 mIU/mL
5 weeks217–8,245 mIU/mL
6 weeks152–32,177 mIU/mL
7 weeks4,059–153,767 mIU/mL
8 weeks31,366–149,094 mIU/mL
9 weeks59,109–135,901 mIU/mL
10 weeks44,186–170,409 mIU/mL
12 weeks27,107–201,165 mIU/mL
14 weeks24,302–93,646 mIU/mL
15 weeks12,540–69,747 mIU/mL
16 weeks8,904–55,332 mIU/mL
17 weeks8,240–51,793 mIU/mL
18 weeks9,649–55,271 mIU/mL

 

High levels of hCG

Many studies have confirmed that the higher your hCG level, the worse your pregnancy symptoms can be, but this is not always the case. However, if you are experiencing all-day sickness, headaches, dizziness, and vomiting, it could be due to your hCG levels.

morning sickness smart baby

A higher-than-normal hCG level can also indicate twins or triplets or that you are further along than you thought.

Some studies have also suggested that high hCG levels can be an indication that you’re having a girl.

Low levels of hCG

Low levels of hCG don’t mean anything is wrong. However, if the levels start to decrease or don’t double in a few days, it may be a sign that the pregnancy is not viable or that you are experiencing a miscarriage.

For example, a baseline level of 400 mIU/mL that’s dropped to 300 mIU/mL two days later can indicate the embryo is no longer developing and the body isn’t producing more hormones to support its growth.

Most newly pregnant women are curious to know their hCG levels – your healthcare provider will be able to help you wth these numbers when they do a blood test. If your levels are quite low, they may request another blood test in two days.

Rising hCG levels 

The most important thing when it comes to hCG is not the actual number, but the fact that the number is increasing during those first nine weeks.

In the first four weeks, the hCG levels will typically double every two to three days. After six weeks, the levels will double every four days. So, even if you have a low hCG level, such as 40, as long as it’s 80 in a few days, it’s good.

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Filled with like-minded mums-to-be it’s a safe place for honest chat, good advice and shared experiences. From morning sickness to pram advice, get the answers and advice you crave from the comfort of home.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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