Interpreting Your Beta HCG Levels


A test for the presence of beta HCG is the most effective and reliable way to confirm pregnancy. The earlier a pregnancy is confirmed the earlier steps can be taken to ensure the health of the baby. A blood test to determine the presence of beta HCG can confirm a pregnancy within a few days of conception. HCG is produced by the embryo and its levels depend a lot on the gestational age. Levels are less than 10 mIU/ml in women who are not pregnant but can go up to 100 mIU/ml 14 days after ovulation, if the mother is pregnant with just one baby. If the pregnancy proceeds in a normal way the HCG levels will double every 48-72 hours.

beta hcg levels

If a woman is pregnant with more than one baby the HCG beta levels will be significantly higher and should also double as with a singleton pregnancy. If the levels do not double there might be a possibility of a non-viable intrauterine pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy. The beta HCG levels in the blood can be detected using highly advanced methods which can identify a pregnancy as soon as two days before a woman misses her period. In the older pregnancy kits HCG presence was determined by a urine test but these are not very sensitive and won’t detect the pregnancy as early as a blood test. More modern pregnancy test kits are more sensitive and can detect pregnancy about 2-3 days after missing a period.

The urine test kits are still beneficial since they are less expensive than other test kits and the test can be carried out in the comfort and privacy of home to determine pregnancy. Instructions must be followed in order to ensure that the results are accurate.

Blood tests have the advantage over urine tests in that they would give an actual measurement of the beta HCG level in the blood. This is especially important if there is a need to identify any potential problems with the pregnancy. In order to properly interpret the results another test must be taken within 48-72 hours of the initial test to see if there is any doubling of the HCG beta levels. Once the levels are doubling the pregnancy is progressing as it should. Since every pregnancy is different what really matters is that the numbers are doubling rather than what the actual levels are. Of course the levels will be significantly more in multiple pregnancies and lower if the pregnancy is ectopic or non-viable.

As beneficial as the HCG test is it has one major drawback in that it can only indicate that pregnancy has occurred. It will not provide details on the location of the pregnancy, for instance if the pregnancy is tubal. Early on in the pregnancy HCG beta levels will help doctors monitor the pregnancy but as the pregnancy progresses they will rely more on an ultrasound since they are more accurate and provide an better picture of what is taking place in the uterus.


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