Normal hCG Levels During Pregnancy
Being pregnant is hard enough without having to keep a close eye on your development during those long nine months. A simple way of both finding out with certainty that you are pregnant and following that pregnancy’s progress, is to measure the hCG levels in your blood. But, what are normal hCG levels and how do you determine it? Let’s learn more about hCG and how you can use it to make sure your pregnancy is progressing properly.
What is hCG and what does it mean to me?
First, hCG is short for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin and it’s a hormone you’ll be hearing a lot about during your pregnancy. It is produced from the very early stages by the placenta after the fertilised egg attaches itself to the uterine wall. It’s detectable through blood tests as early as one week from conceiving and through urine testing in about 14-18 days into your pregnancy. When you take a pregnancy test at home this is actually what you’re looking at, your hCG levels.
A woman that’s not pregnant should have a blood hCG concentration of less than 5 mIU/ml. The segment between 6 mIU/ml and 24 mIU/ml is considered a “grey area”, attesting neither for pregnancy or lack of it. It simply means you have to wait another day or two and measure the levels again to see if they’ve changed. Anything above, and including, 25 mIU/ml is a definite sign you’re pregnant.
What hCG Levels are Normal for me?
In early pregnancy, generally speaking, the level of hCG in your bloodstream will double every 48 to 72 hours. As a statistic, 85% of normal pregnancies will see a doubling of hCG numbers every 72 hours. This occurs continuously until the pregnancy is between 8 and 10 weeks in. That’s when hCG peaks as it will remain at lower levels until birth.
At any stage of the pregnancy the range of what’s considered a “normal” level of the hormone is quite vast. Just take a look below at the large variation acceptable for the same pregnancy periods:
- Three weeks: 5 – 50 mIU/mL
- Four weeks: 5 – 426 mIU/mL
- 5 weeks: 18 – 7,340 mIU/mL
- 6 weeks: 1,080 – 56,500 mIU/mL
- 7 – 8 weeks: 7, 650 – 229,000 mIU/mL
- 9 – 12 weeks: 25,700 – 288,000 mIU/mL
- 13 – 16 weeks: 13,300 – 254,000 mIU/mL
- 17 – 24 weeks: 4,060 – 165,400 mIU/mL
- 25 – 40 weeks: 3,640 – 117,000 mIU/mL
Notice the peak between weeks 8 and 10, when hCG levels can reach a whopping 288.000 mIU/mL, and how it gradually decreases from there on to a range of 3.640 to 117.000 mIU/mL in the final stages of the process. If you look at the initial few weeks, you’ll notice small build-ups in the first month, while month 2 and 3 will see by far the sharpest increases. Still normal levels of hCG differ from person to person by a factor of more than 20 times in certain cases. If you ever have a concern about your hCG blood concentration, consult your physician right away.
Variations of Levels and other ways to Track Progress
Because of the huge admissible variations, measuring hCG levels doesn’t bring a whole lot of certainty when it comes to the pregnancy’s health. Although miscarriages are associated with lower levels of hCG in the final stages (often exhibiting normal levels in the first few months), it’s recommended you follow your pregnancy’s development through ultrasound findings, a much more reliable tool.
Nonetheless, hCG is a good general indicator of your pregnancy’s health and it takes a simple procedure to determine its levels with accuracy. As with most medical endeavours, you should rely on multiple tracking tools to be certain of an outcome and hCG should definitely be one of them.
What should I ask my Doctor?
Your doctor can guide you through the beginning stages of your pregnancy and let you know of other ways to make sure your pregnancy is thriving. It’s recommended that between doctor appointments that you write down any questions, concerns or symptoms to discuss at your next visit and if you are ever worried, you can always give them a call to see if you need to take any action. No question is too small!
Feel free to contact us with concerns, any time!