hCG is essential during your pregnancy and its levels are monitored only when in doubt. In part-1 of this article we got to know about the basis, now let’s see the values and what it indicates (when high or low).
By now we know that the hCG levels in:
- Women who are not pregnant it is <5.0 mIU/ml
- Women who are pregnant it is > 25 mIU/ml (any reading is positive)
As pregnancy progresses, the levels of hCG keep rising and then plateaus. The various levels of hCG from the last menstrual period (LMP) are:
- 3 weeks post LMP: 5 – 50 mIU/ml
- 4 weeks post LMP: 5 – 426 mIU/ml
- 5 weeks post LMP: 18 – 7,340 mIU/ml
- 6 weeks post LMP: 1,080 – 56,500 mIU/ml
- 7 – 8 weeks post LMP: 7, 650 – 229,000 mIU/ml
- 9 – 12 weeks post LMP: 25,700 – 288,000 mIU/ml
- 13 – 16 weeks post LMP: 13,300 – 254,000 mIU/ml
- 17 – 24 weeks post LMP: 4,060 – 165,400 mIU/ml
- 25 – 40 weeks post LMP: 3,640 – 117,000 mIU/ml
So, what does low hCG in pregnancy mean?
- Wrong calculation of your pregnancy date: You may miscalculate your implantation and/ or your ovulation where you predict the date to be more than it should. The more accurate way to date your pregnancy would be through an ultrasound.
- Ectopic pregnancy: If the pregnancy occurs outside the uterus, the hCG levels will not rise as it should or may be erratic.
- Chemical pregnancy or blighted ovum: The embryo fails to grow, leading to miscarriage. Despite a positive pregnancy test, the hCG levels will not rise as it should and stays low.
So, what does high hCG in pregnancy mean?
High hCG levels can mean a few possible outcomes, and it’s important to consult with your doctor to know for sure:
- Wrong calculation of your pregnancy date: You may miscalculate your implantation and/ or your ovulation where you predict the date to be less than it should. The more accurate way to date your pregnancy would be through an ultrasound.
- Multiple pregnancies or high order multiples: If multiple pregnancies are there, the hCG is more than the normal values.
- Molar pregnancy: Also known as “hydatidform mole”. It is seen when defective placenta cells grow too fast in the space where the embryo would normally develop post-implantation and continue secreting hCG.