You've had an embryo transfer, and now it's time for a pregnancy blood test. You may be wondering whether the hCG level in your blood predict how healthy your very new pregnancy is.
The short answer is yes - but only to a certain extent. For a more complete answer, read on!
How hCG Works in the Body
The hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone is a remarkable molecule, which is very unusual because it is produced only by the cells that will become the placenta of the developing embryo (trophoblast cells). Once the embryo implants in the uterine lining, these cells start producing hCG . It takes a few days for the hCG hormone to build up in the body to a level, which is high enough for it be detected in the blood or urine of pregnant women.
Normally, you do your first pregnancy test (hCG blood test) 14 days after embryo transfer. At this point, if the embryo has implanted, you will also get a positive urine pregnancy test. The hCG hormone level in the blood doubles every 48-72 hours. If the hCG level doubles well, this indicates that the cells of the embryo are dividing well, suggesting that the pregnancy is progressing normally and is healthy.
This is why monitoring the hCG blood levels during the first few weeks helps to make sure that the pregnancy is advancing as expected. A drop in hCG level during this time is a sign that the pregnancy is not healthy. Make sure that you measure your hCG level in the same lab each time to avoid any discrepancies in the results.
However, do remember that because the trophoblastic cells of the embryo produce the hCG, a rising level does not always mean that the pregnancy is healthy. Thus, while a drop in hCG confirms the pregnancy is endangered, a rising hCG level provides limited information.
Also, once the hCG level crosses 1000 mIU/ml, a vaginal ultrasound scan provides much more useful information than just the hCG levels, because it allows us to actually visualize the development of the growing embryo.
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Want to work with expert fertility specialists who understand what you're going through? Contact us today to schedule a consultation at one of our Chicago-area fertility clinics. We're here to help!