Beta HCG Levels In Early Pregnancy
Beta HCG plays an important role in early pregnancy. Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that is secreted by a growing fetus and which in turn maintains the corpus luteum. Don't know what the corpus luteum is? This is the name for the follicle after ovulation—that's the little cluster of cells which surrounded your egg before it was released and fertilized. That little cluster of cells still has an important job to play—which is to produce yet another hormone called progesterone.
Progesterone always peaks after ovulation and before your menstrual period—if you experience headaches, cramps, depression and other symptoms of PMS, then you already are familiar with this particular hormone. If you have a fertilized egg instead of a period however, the progesterone needs to continue doing its job, which is to thicken the lining of the uterus. Instead of shedding that lining, your body needs to maintain the lining for your growing fetus. All of that starts with beta HCG!
Beta HCG levels during early pregnancy should double every two days (or so) for the first four weeks. After that, you can expect the doubling to slow down a bit so that it takes about three days on average (it could take four however). Once you are 9-12 weeks pregnant, the phase of your pregnancy when HCG is increasing is over, and you are at your peak beta HCG levels. Beta HCG levels then start to fall again.
The rate of increase of beta HCG during early pregnancy is more important than the actual measurements of HCG. Those numbers can vary quite a bit. Online you will find the range for healthy, normal HCG levels. The range widens considerably as the weeks go on—but is quite wide right from the beginning. As such, you shouldn't worry too much if you notice your levels seem high or low, as long as they are somewhere in that normal, healthy range. On rare occasions, high or low levels could indicate something is wrong with the pregnancy, but beta HCG levels in early pregnancy can only indicate—never confirm. Additional tests are needed for confirmation.
If your beta HCG levels during early pregnancy are high, or on the upper end of the range, do you have twins? It's a possibility, though it's not a likelihood, and only an ultrasound can reveal whether or not you actually have twins or multiples. Early on in your pregnancy, an ultrasound can't present a clear image, so you will just need to wait to find out. You can talk to your doctor to get a professional opinion on your HCG levels. Keep in mind that if your doctor doesn't think your beta HCG levels are concerning or indicative of anything special, then they are probably nothing for you to worry about, especially if your pregnancy seems normal in all other respects. Many pregnant women actually overestimate the importance of their HCG levels. Beta HCG is a helpful indicator, but it doesn't prove anything on its own.