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Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)

Results continued...

 

hCG levels in urine
Men:

None (negative test)

Nonpregnant women:

None (negative test)

Pregnant women:

Detectable (positive test)

 

High values

  • If you are pregnant, very high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) can mean a multiple pregnancy (such as twins or triplets), a molar pregnancy, Down syndrome, or that you are further along in an early pregnancy than estimated by your last menstrual period (LMP).
  • In a man or a nonpregnant woman, a high hCG level can mean a tumor (cancerous or noncancerous) that develops from a sperm or egg cell (germ cell tumor), such as a tumor of the testicles or ovaries, is present. It may also mean some types of cancer, such as cancer of the stomach, pancreas camera.gif, large intestine, liver, or lung.

Low values

  • If you are pregnant, low levels of hCG can mean an ectopic pregnancy, death of your baby, or that you are not as far along in an early pregnancy as estimated by your last menstrual period (LMP).
  • If you are pregnant, levels of hCG that are decreasing abnormally can mean a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) is very likely.

What Affects the Test

Things that may affect the results of your test include:

  • Doing a urine test for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) very early in pregnancy (during the first week after implantation) or on a urine sample taken in the middle of the day. The test may not always show an early pregnancy.
  • Miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) or therapeutic abortion. HCG results may remain high (positive) for up to 4 weeks after a miscarriage or therapeutic abortion.
  • Getting an injection of hCG to treat infertility. This may cause test results to appear high for several days after the injection.
  • Having blood in the urine sample or soap in the collecting container, which may change the hCG level.
  • Using diuretics and promethazine. These medicines can cause false low hCG levels in urine test results.
  • Using heparin, a medicine to prevent blood from clotting (anticoagulant).
  • Using some medicines. These include hypnotics (such as Ambien), antipsychotics, and antinausea medicines (such as prochlorperazine and promethazine ). Be sure to tell your doctor what medicines you take.

What To Think About

  • Home pregnancy tests that find hCG in urine are widely available. To learn more, see the topic Home Pregnancy Tests.
  • A blood test for hCG is generally more accurate than a urine test. If pregnancy is suspected even after urine test results do not show a pregnancy (negative results), a blood test can be done, or another urine test should be repeated in a week.
  • HCG results may remain high (positive) for up to 4 weeks after a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) or therapeutic abortion.
  • A normal hCG value does not rule out the possibility of a tumor in the uterus, ovaries, or testicles. HCG is only one part of an overall evaluation when a tumor is suspected.
  • The level of hCG in the blood is often used in a maternal serum triple or quadruple screening test. To learn more, see the topic Triple or Quad Screening for Birth Defects.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 04, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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