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The Pregnancy Hormone: What is hCG?

3. Question: What is hCG? And why is it produced?

Answer: hCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. It’s the hormone that is produced by the placenta right when implantation first takes place – which makes it a wonderful indicator of a pregnancy. However, the point of hCG, its “manufacture” by your baby, is not just to let you know he or she is there! The biological function of hCG is to “tell” the corpus luteum to maintain the production of progesterone. Progesterone warms the body and at elevated levels will prevent you from having a period. In effect, the presence of hCG ensures the further production of progesterone, and therefore the integrity of the endometrial-uterine lining is preserved (along with your pregnancy). Menstruation will not occur thanks to the dynamic interaction between hCG and progesterone.Our pregnancy tests detect hCG at 20mIU, which is typically the level achieved at about a week or so following ovulation. If you see a faint positive test line, re-take a test in a day or two using first morning urine and the line should get bolder as more and more hCG accumulates. Note that a few prescription fertility drugs designed to induce ovulation may contain hCG and cause a “false positive” result. Therefore, if you are taking fertility drugs, ask your doctor if they contain hCG. Clomid, the most widely prescribed drug for fertility, does not contain the pregnancy hormone.

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