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Things to know about Low hCG levels

Things to know about Low hCG levels

What is an HCG test?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a pregnancy hormone that the placenta produces once an embryo implants in the uterus.

The purpose of hCG is to tell a female body to continue to produce progesterone. The hormone progesterone here helps in the prevention of instruction from occurring. Thus, it protests the endometrial uterine lining and your pregnancy. 

A pregnancy test can detect hCG through the urine test when the levels of hCG are high enough. It also helps to identify whether you are pregnant or not. But to know the exact regular reading of hCG, you may need a blood test. 

Standard HCG levels

The levels of standard hCG can vary significantly between women for various reasons. It depends on what is normal for them, how their body responds to the pregnancy, and how many embryos their pregnancy carries. A woman's body reacts uniquely during pregnancy, causing varying levels of standard hCG.

 (Table) for the data of standard hCG levels

Pregnancy week

Standard hCG range


3 weeks

5–50 mIU/mL

4 weeks

5–426 mIU/mL

5 weeks

18–7,340 mIU/mL

6 weeks

1,080–56,500 mIU/mL

7–8 weeks

7,650–229,000 mIU/mL

9–12 weeks

25,700–288,000 mIU/mL

13–16 weeks

13,300–254,000 mIU/mL

17–24 weeks

4,060–165,400 mIU/mL

25–40 weeks

3,640–117,000 mIU/mL

During the first 10-12 weeks of the pregnancy, hCG levels usually keep rising. After that, the levels may stay the same or go down after this period. It's why most women have more significant pregnancy symptoms in the first trimester. But later, they usually get better as the levels of hCG plateau or even decrease. 

In the case of early pregnancy, the levels of hCG usually double every 2 to 3 days. When the measurements start from high, you may notice that they don't increase at the same rate. But if they start more slowly, the level increases much quicker.

If your hCG levels fall below the normal range, your doctor may ask for blood tests every two to three days to check the levels. It will help them know whether it is rising or not. A single measurement of your hCG will not be sufficient and valuable to get accurate data and reading. At the beginning of pregnancy, variation with a rapid increase in number may take place. 

Causes of low hCG levels

It is not necessarily a concern if your hCG level is below the normal range. Most women with low levels of hCG may still have healthy pregnancies and babies. In most cases, even women don't find their hCG levels throughout pregnancy. 

However, there can be specific underlying causes that may affect 

lower levels of hCG. We have listed most of them.

Gestational age miscalculated

Usually, doctors calculate your pregnancy length based on your last menstruation period. Here the calculation can be miss calculated if you have a history of irregular or are unsure about the dates. 

During the detection of low hCG levels, it is often thought between the 6 and 12 weeks of the pregnancy. But this period is not that far as there can also be miscalculations which may lead to inaccuracy. Thus, in such cases, ultrasound and further hCG tests may help to calculate the correct gestational age. It is the first step where low hCG can usually be detected and can be miscalculated sometimes. 


A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week of gestation. Sometimes the low levels of hCG may indicate that you have had or will have a miscarriage. When your pregnancy fails to develop a placenta, then the levels of hCG may remain normal as in the initial period. The level of hCG fails to rise, and some common signs you may suspect during a miscarriage can be.

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Discharge of white and pink mucus
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Passing tissue or clots
  • Cessation of pregnancy symptoms
  • Blighted ovum

It happens when the egg fertilizes and attaches to the womb's wall, but it does not continue to develop. The gestational sac develops, but the hCG hormone doesn't increase because the egg doesn't grow. Such a condition may appear early in pregnancy, and most women do not even think about it when it happens. You may experience usual menstruation symptoms during it, and you can assume it is a regular period.

However, in such cases, if you want to conceive, you do have to do an early pregnancy test that may help pick up the presence of hCG to maintain a normal pregnancy. 

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg remains in the fallopian tube and develops. It may cause the fallopian tube to rupture and lead to excessive bleeding, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Low levels of hCG may help indicate the chances of ectopic pregnancy. The symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are the same as normal pregnancy, but in its progression, you may suspect the following symptoms-

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Pain during intercourse
  • You may feel pain in your belly or lower back that worsens when you strain or move. The pain might start on one side and then spread. 
  • Dizziness or fainting caused due to internal bleeding.
  • Internal bleeding may induce symptoms like shoulder pain. The bleeding can irritate the diaphragm and result in pain at the shoulder's tip. 
  • Symptoms of shock
  • Pain during a pelvic examination

How low hCG levels are treated?

Unfortunately, we cannot treat low hCG levels, but low levels alone are not always problematic. 

If you have a miscarriage, you have a low hCG and may need treatment if any pregnancy tissue is left inside your womb. But you may not need any treatment if the tissues pass out naturally. If you go through such a condition, you may have these three treatment options-

  • Wait for the tissues to pass out naturally
  • Take help of the medications to help you to pass the tissue
  • Have a surgical treatment to remove the tissue

The treatment option for an ectopic pregnancy is similar to a miscarriage. In such cases, medications may help prevent the pregnancy and its growth. If you need surgery, a surgical expert may help remove the affected fallopian tube and the pregnancy.

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You must discuss with a doctor what's best for you if you face these conditions. A time-to-time checkup may help determine these pregnancy risks at their initial stages. You may consider taking essential steps and treatments if you discover any abnormalities earlier. 

Final lines on the topic

Low hCG levels are not always a cause for concern. Many factors may affect these levels, and the reasons can be dictated. A doctor may be able to find out the hCG levels if you are concerned about it. But even if it's not, there is nothing you can do, but finding them can help you indicate other complications in the pregnancy. 

 If you have a pregnancy loss, then you may have a low hCG level, but it does not mean that you will not be able to get pregnant in the future. And in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, your fertility would not have any significant change as long as your other tube is functioning. But if it isn't, you may consider Reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization. It can help achieve a successful pregnancy, even if it isn't possible naturally