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Beta HCG Test: Why and How is it Done?

Beta HCG Test: Why and How is it Done?

The human chorionic gonadotropin also referred to as HCG is a hormone that plays a significant role in the initial stages of pregnancy. The hormone is created by the placenta when a woman is pregnant. The production of the hormone begins in the first week of pregnancy itself and is detected in the blood or urine. The beta-human chorionic gonadotropin test or Beta HCG test is helpful to diagnose pregnancy by determining the presence of the hormone in your blood.

The Beta HCG test is also helpful to check the age of the fetus, abnormal pregnancy, and potential risk of miscarriages. Not just pregnancy, the test is done to check if you have any other medical conditions, other than pregnancy, that can elevate the levels of the hormone.

Beta HCG test is also known as BHCG test, blood pregnancy test, quantitative blood pregnancy test, quantitative hCG blood test, and repeat the quantitative beta-hCG test.

beta hcg

Why is the Beta HCG Test done?

The Beta HCG test is one of the many tests that help to diagnose pregnancy. The test is also helpful to know the age of the fetus, which further helps to diagnose any potential risk of miscarriage, and other issues related to pregnancy.

If you are planning a pregnancy, your doctor may recommend tthe test before beginning any treatment for any other medical condition. This will help to diagnose if you are pregnant as certain tests can harm the fetus.

Even though the hormone HCG is related to women and pregnancy, the hormone can also occur in men. If the hormone is present in men’s blood, it might be an indication of testicular cancer. However, a few other tests are also recommended to confirm the diagnosis. A common symptom of testicular cancer is the presence of a lump in the testicles.

Prerequisites of the Beta HCG Test

To undergo the test, there is no preparation that needs to be done in advance. However, it is advised to avoid the consumption of excess water before the urine test. Excess water increases the risk of a false-negative result.

beta hcg

For a blood test, you may not require any preparation. However, it is best to check with your doctor if you need to fast before the test.

It is a best practice to inform your doctor about the medications or herbals you take. Some of the medications or herbals might influence the results. In such cases, your doctor may ask you to avoid the consumption of such medications or herbals for a specific period.

Understanding the Results

The HCG is calculated in milli-international units per milliliter, which is referred to as mIU/mL. The normal range of HCG may vary based on the laboratory. It is important to get your reports verified by your doctor.

The test results may be mentioned in a qualitative or quantitative way.

In qualitative beta HCG, your results are indicated as positive or negative. A positive beta HCG is an indication that you are pregnant. While a negative beta HCG is an indication that you are not pregnant.

In quantitative beta HCG, your results are indicated in numbers, meaning the count of hormones.

If you are not pregnant, your beta HCG level might be less than 10 mIU/mL.

The HCG level varies every week. In week 3 of pregnancy, the HCG level may be between 5 and 50 mIU/mL. While in the 25 to 40 weeks of pregnancy, the HCG level may be between 3,640 to 117,000 mIU/mL.

The HCG levels may elevate in between 9 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. The rise in the HCG levels may eventually go down as pregnancy progresses. Your results might show high levels of HCG if your conceiving date has been not calculated properly.

HCG levels that are lower than the normal levels are an indication of miscarriage, potential miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy.

HCG levels that are higher than the normal levels are an indication of a molar pregnancy, having twins or triplets, ovarian cancer, choriocarcinoma of the uterus, etc.

False-negative results

In some cases, the BHCG test may indicate negative even if you are pregnant. This occurs because of the constant changes in the hormones.

Certain medications like antihistamines, diuretics, tranquilisers, etc. might also influence the results and indicate false results. Other factors that might indicate false results are the presence of blood or protein in the urine.

When should it be repeated?

During the early stages of pregnancy, there might be sudden and quick changes in the HCG levels. Your doctor may ask you to repeat the Beta HCG test every two to three days to monitor how quickly your HCG changes.

Procedure

There is no special preparation required for the test. The procedure is simple and may take not more than 15 minutes. Wear comfortable clothes while you visit the hospital or lab for the test.

For the test, your healthcare professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm. The healthcare professional will tie a band around your arm. This will help the veins to fill with blood and make it visible. With the help of a needle, the healthcare professional will draw the blood sample. The blood will be stored in a tube and sent to the lab for analysis. While drawing the blood, you may feel a sting on the punctured area. The pain would be temporary. The healthcare professional will place gauze on the puncture site.

If you experience swelling, redness, or soreness on the punctured site, inform your doctor.

The results of your blood test will be shared with your doctor. Make sure you book an appointment with your doctor to discuss your results. Based on your results the doctor may prescribe you treatment and medications.

Learn more about prenatal care here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

What is HCG?/https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/hcg-levels/Accessed on 28/05/2020

HCG blood test – quantitative/https://www.ucsfhealth.org/medical-tests/003510/Accessed on 28/05/2020

Pregnancy Test (hCG)/https://labtestsonline.org/tests/pregnancy-test-hcg/Accessed on 28/05/2020

Total hCG Versus Free beta-hCG Combined With Alpha-Fetoprotein for Down Syndrome Screening in Taiwan/https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17962101/Accessed on 28/05/2020

Pregnancy testing/https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/pregnancy-testing/Accessed on 28/05/2020

hCG levels/https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/hcg-levels/Accessed on 28/05/2020

Getting pregnant/https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940/Accessed on 28/05/2020

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated 3 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.