About the Pregnancy Hormone hCG

Human Chorionic Ganadotropin (hCG) is only produced during pregnancy. It is the hormone that home pregnancy tests look for as well as blood tests at the doctor. It is produced when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus.

An hCG blood test at the doctor can detect a pregnancy between 8 and 10 days after fertilization. Any level over 5 is considered “pregnant.” Keep in mind, however, that the normal miscarriage rate is very high at this point, still over 30%. Home pregnancy tests typically require 14 days, when your period would normally be due. The level for these tests ranges between 50 and 80. By this point, the normal miscarriage rate is down to 10% since the baby is clearly well implanted and churning out proper hormones.

The rate of hCG should usually double every 2-3 days. Keep in mind that if you have been given hCG shots as fertility treatment, it will throw off your reading and could even give you a false positive.

The numbers in the chart below are only a guideline, and are so broad as to be almost useless. They are here to give you a small measure of reassurance, although the only true way to know if your hCG level is rising appropriately is to take two tests about three days apart. The reason for the large range in the chart is to assume you may be as much as 7 days off on your ovulation, and to allow for larger numbers for pregnancies with more than one baby. In my own experience and with those women who have shared their numbers on the bulletin board, if you are rock-sure of your ovulation date, your number tends to be about 2/3 of the highest number for your week. 


Week since last menstrual period began

Amount of hCG
in mIU/ml


5 – 50 (less than 5 means you are not pregnant)


5 – 426


19 – 7,340


1,080 – 56,500


7,650 – 229,000


25,700 – 288,000


*You will likely see the hCG rates go DOWN after the first trimester, when it is no longer a factor in pregnancy or miscarriage because the placenta has taken over. At 9 weeks, however, your baby will be monitored by ultrasound rather than hCG levels.

Slow-rising hCG. Unfortunately, even if your levels are rising, the failure to double every few days is not a good sign. This type of pregnancy can go on for several weeks, but will almost always end in miscarriage. A single set of tests that do not show a doubling can still be fine. Usually another set will be ordered if you are low or borderline.

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