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HCG Pregnancy Tests - Are They Accurate & How to Read Results

HCG Pregnancy Tests - Are They Accurate & How to Read Results

Max Lab

Nov 16, 2022

HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a specific hormone made in the body during pregnancy. A female body goes through many changes in the first trimester of pregnancy. The HCG hormone increases and then drops in the second and third trimesters as the pregnancy develop. So, the changes in HCG hormone are the first sign that leaves the body through urine. The hormones are already present, but they start increasing in the body when a fertilised egg implants in the uterus around 10-days after conception. The doctors may prescribe many pregnancy tests to check how a woman’s HCG levels change. Both blood and urine tests can be used for detecting a pregnancy in women, and repeat testing is possible to confirm the result. Here is more about the HCG pregnancy test, its accuracy, and the result interpretation.

What is HCG Test?

HCG is a hormone created in the body during pregnancy. Cells that become the placenta build this hormone. The HCG test is used to detect a pregnancy. This is also a way to check if a pregnancy is developing correctly or not. A woman’s HCG levels increase during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Women have low levels of HCG in their urine and blood in the normal stage, and the test is used to detect the correct levels. Also, a Beta HCG test is prescribed by doctors to see whether a pregnant woman is having normal or abnormal HCG levels in the blood. A lower level of HCG than the normal range may be a sign of some underlying issue with the pregnancy. However, a sudden increase in HCG levels can be a sign of molar pregnancy, which is a condition causing a uterine tumour to grow. Doctors need many HCG tests to track the growth of the pregnancy.

Types of Pregnancy Tests

To detect pregnancy, there are two main types of pregnancy tests available. These include:

  • Blood Tests

In this type of pregnancy test, a small blood sample is taken from the vein and analysed at a hospital or lab. It detects the hormone as well as the HCG levels in pregnancy. A blood test can detect pregnancy hormones earlier than a home pregnancy kit. There are two varieties of blood pregnancy tests:

  • A Quantitative HCG test (beta hCG)

It evaluates beta HCG levels in the blood during pregnancy in women. The said test can even detect low levels of HCG and help track issues with pregnancy. The doctor may prescribe this test, along with other tests like an antenatal profile test, to determine the exact condition.

  • A qualitative HCG Test

This test only checks for HCG hormones. It is used to confirm a pregnancy as early as 10 days post-conception.

  • Urine Test

To detect pregnancy, a urine test is done by urinating into a sterile cup given by the health care provider. Women opting for an at-home pregnancy test are required to place a few drops of urine on a prepared chemical strip. The test stick or strip is specially-designed to find out pregnancy hormones.

Other Tests during Pregnancy

  • Antenatal Profile Test

Antenatal Profile test is done to determine if the pregnant woman has any disease that can affect the growth of the fetus. It helps to take special care by evaluating the health of the mother and the developing baby inside the womb.

  • Torch Test in Pregnancy

A torch test is a group of tests done to detect infections in expecting mothers. An infection could be passed into an infant during pregnancy. So early detection and on-time treatment can aid avoid complications in newborns.

Are Pregnancy Tests Accurate?

The beta HCG pregnancy test results are more accurate. However, home pregnancy tests are correct if the woman follows instructions carefully. While some pregnancy tests can detect HCG hormone before you miss a period, the results will be more precise if you wait for the test until the first day of a missed period.

How to Read the Results & Normal HCG levels?

HCG levels are calculated in milli-international units of HCG hormone per milliliter of blood (mIU/mL). In non-pregnant women, the normal range of HCG is around 5 to 10.0 mlU/mL. HCG level above 25 mIU/mL could be a positive sign for pregnancy. However, an abnormal range of HCG can indicate lots of things.

Lower HCG Level Means:

  • An ectopic pregnancy
  • An inaccuracy of pregnancy dating
  • A possible miscarriage or blighted ovum

Higher HCG Level Means:

  • A miscalculation of pregnancy dating
  • Multiple pregnancies, like twins or triplets
  • Molar pregnancy in which an abnormal mass is accumulated in the uterus after fertilisation, rather than a normal embryo

If there is anything to be concerned about the pregnancy, the doctor will prescribe multiple HCG pregnancy tests to assess the exact situation. It is vital to listen to doctors and follow their instructions concerning the health of the pregnancy. 


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