Among the many tests that are carried out on humans, one is known as the human chorionic gonadotropin HCG to understand the levels of the hCG hormone in the blood or urine. Some tests measure the exact amount, and some merely try to understand whether the hormone is present. HCG is made by the placenta during pregnancy, and the test can be used to understand if a woman is pregnant or used as a screening test and look for birth defects within the unborn child.
Some tumors within the body can also make abnormally high levels of hCG. Germ cell tumors are thought to be responsible for this condition. Medical practitioners generally check hCG levels in women who may have abnormal tissue growing within the uterus. Such conditions are also known as a molar pregnancy which is also classified as a form of cancer in the uterus. Women who go through a miscarriage will be subjected to several hCG tests to ensure that they are not prone to molar pregnancy. HCG levels in men are often checked to ascertain whether any development of cancer within the testicles can be found.
The fertilization of an egg by a sperm cell generally takes place in the fallopian tube. It takes about nine days after the fertilization for the egg to move down the fallopian tube into the uterus and implant itself to the uterine wall. The developing placenta begins releasing hCG into the blood after the egg implants on the uterine wall. Some of the hCG is also released along with the urine. HCG is normally found within the blood within six days of implantation of the egg within the uterus.
It must be understood that hCG helps to maintain the pregnancy affecting the development of the baby in the fetus. During the first 14 to 16, weeks hCG levels increase constantly after the last menstrual period. They peak around week number 14 and thereafter begin to decrease in a gradual manner. The increase in hCG early in the pregnancy gives information about your pregnancy and the health of the baby. HCG can no longer be found within the blood immediately after the baby has been delivered.
In cases where women are carrying multiple pregnancies such as twins or triplets, the levels of hCG released is higher. In cases where the egg implants itself in places other than the uterus, the release of hCG can be lower. Such instances are known as ectopic pregnancies.
To measure the exact amount of hCG in the blood medical practitioners carry out blood tests. These tests are used to understand whether a woman is pregnant and can also check for pregnancies that are abnormal or for hCG that is related to certain cancers. HCG levels within the blood often give an indication about any birth defects within the unborn child. Doctors use several tests to determine the levels of some substances within the blood along with the age of the woman to estimate whether the baby may have certain problems or birth defects.
Why are hCG tests carried out?
There are several reasons why these tests are essentially. Some of them have been mentioned below for your understanding.
The primary intention is to check whether you are pregnant.
To understand whether you could be a victim of ectopic pregnancy.
To understand whether treatment is required for a molar pregnancy.
To look for birth defects such as down syndrome.
To understand whether any treatment may be required for a cancer that may develop from an egg or sperm.
Tests are usually carried out by collecting a sample of the urine or the blood from the patient. Advice of medical practitioners is suggested in these matters for reasons of hygiene and safety.
Very high levels of hCG in a woman can indicate that she could be carrying a multiple pregnancy, a molar pregnancy, down syndrome, or they could be prone to an early pregnancy than estimated by the last menstrual period.
In men and women who are not pregnant but are showing higher levels of hCG, it can mean a tumor that could be cancerous or non cancerous. Low levels of hCG in pregnant women could be an indicator that they are carrying an ectopic pregnancy which could lead to the death to the baby. If hCG levels are decreasing during pregnancy, it could be a sign of a miscarriage.
While it is always advised that the tests be conducted by a qualified professional and must also be mentioned that home pregnancy tests that can find hCG in urine are available and can be used by people who may be confident enough to do so. In all other cases, people are advised to look for professional help because they can be accurate and give a proper indication of the condition of the woman and the baby.