If you are planning to get pregnant or are already pregnant, this article on what hCG is and how the hCG levels change during pregnancy would be of great interest to you.

What is hCG?

hCG is a hormone that is produced during pregnancy.  hCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin.  hCG is made by cells which form the placenta.  hCG levels in pregnancy can be detected as early as 11 days after conception through a beta hCG blood test. The hCG hormone is measured in mIU/ml   (milli-international units per milliliter)

If your hCG level is less than 5 mIU/ml, you are considered negative for pregnancy.  hCG levels above 25 mIU/ML are considered positive for pregnancy.

A Urine test (used in home pregnancy tests) can usually detect hCG and confirm pregnancy 12-14 days after conception, which is around the time of your missed period.  Some urine tests can detect hCG levels as low as 25 mIU/ml although others detect hCG levels of 50 mIU/ml or above.

As the pregnancy develops, the hCG level keep increasing.  As a thumb rule, the hCG level in a pregnant woman doubles every 48-72 hours till it reaches a maximum somewhere between 8 and 11 weeks of pregnancy.  hCG level would normally decline from the peak after that and level off during the rest of the pregnancy.

If you are worried about the health of the pregnancy (especially if you have had a previous early miscarriage), a single hCG reading is usually not enough.  Your doctor may recommend 2 tests of hCG done at an interval of 48 hours to get a more accurate assessment of the situation

What can I expect in a beta hCG test?

In a beta hCG test, your blood sample will be collected like in any other blood test.  There are several hospitals and labs even in smaller towns in India which can conduct this test.  Your beta hCG test results should normally be available within 2-5 hours of the test.

What are normal beta HCG levels in a pregnancy?