Human chorionic gonadotropin, commonly known as HCG, is a hormone which is produced by cells that surround the growing human embryo. The cells will eventually form the placenta. HCG can be detected in one’s the urine from 7 to 9 days after fertilization as the embryo attaches and implants in the uterus. HCG forms the basis of many over-the-counter as well as hospital pregnancy tests.
In addition to maintaining production of progesterone from the ovary, HCG might also play an important role in ensuring that the uterus lining (endometrium) is ready for the implanting embryo. Recent studies have shown that the human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone may help in increasing the supply of blood to the uterus and also be involved in reshaping the uterus lining in preparation for the embryo implantation.
HCG is normally used to cause the onset of ovulation and also treat infertility in women and it increases sperm count in men. The hormone is also used in young men when their testicles haven’t dropped down normally into the scrotum. This might be caused by pituitary gland disorders.
How is Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin hormone controlled?
HCG is normally produced by trophoblast cells which surrounds the developing embryo at about day five of the pregnancy. The amount of this hormone in the bloodstream usually doubles every 2 to 3 days as the development of the placenta and embryo continues. The levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin reach peak level around 6 weeks of pregnancy. Following this peak, the levels HCG then fall even though they can be detected throughout the pregnancy. Once the placenta has been established, it becomes the major source of progesterone hormone production (at around the 12th week of the pregnancy) and the human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone is no longer needed to maintain the ovarian function. However, HCG might have additional positive effects during the latter stages of the pregnancy.
What happens if a person has too much HCG?
There are no strong evidences that high levels of this hormone can cause direct negative consequences. Extremely high levels of the hormone are rare but they can indicate the hyper-proliferation of one’s placenta (also known as molar pregnancies or hydatidiform moles) which might lead to choriocarcinomas (cancer) in some instances. Levels of HCG might also be elevated at times in association with the non-pregnancy related types of cancers such as kidney cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer as well as gastrointestinal tract cancer. In such instances, the levels of the HCG hormone in the blood or urine can act as a tumor marker.
In pregnancy, links between high levels of HCG hormone and occurrence of the Down’s syndrome have also been suggested. Different studies have revealed that the levels of HCG in Down’s syndrome pregnancies are approximately twice that of unaffected pregnancies.
What happens if a person has too little HCG?
Low levels of HCG hormone can be an indication of a failing pregnancy. Reduced levels of HCG are mostly observed in miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies; types of pregnancy where the embryo usually implants itself outside the uterus or.
HCG Side Effects
The main side effects of using HCG are:
- severe pelvic pain;
- stomach pains and swelling;
- swelling on the legs or hands
- shortness of breath;
- nausea or vomiting
- weight gain
HCG is normally given as an injection under one’s the skin or in a muscle. In case you use HCG at your home, ensure that your doctor, pharmacist or nurse gives you the specific instructions on where and how to inject this medicine. One should never self-inject HCG in case he/she does not fully understand how to inject and properly dispose the used syringes and needles.