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hCG test

The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) test is usually used to confirm or monitor a pregnancy. It is also known as the pregnancy test. It can be a blood or urine test.

What is being tested?

This test measures the amount of hCG in your urine or blood. This hormone is usually present only when a woman is pregnant. It starts getting produced by the placenta after the fertilised egg implants in the womb.

Occasionally, women can also get abdominal tumours that produce hCG.

Home pregnancy test kits, which you can buy from supermarkets and pharmacies, test for hCG in the urine. The urine test can detect hCG from around the time of your first missed period.

The blood hCG test may detect pregnancy earlier – from about 1 week after conception.

Why would I need this test?

Your doctor might use the blood hCG test to check if you are pregnant, to confirm a positive urine hCG test or to monitor your pregnancy. The blood test is more sensitive than the urine test and the results can assist your doctor to determine when your baby will be born and discover whether the pregnancy is developing normally or not.

Blood hCG tests are also used to detect or monitor the tumours that produce hCG. If the hCG level goes up, this suggest the tumour is getting bigger. If it goes down, it suggest the tumour is getting smaller.

How to prepare for this test

No special preparation is required.

Understanding your results

Normally, hCG levels rise quickly in early pregnancy. But if something is wrong with the pregnancy, your hCG levels may be higher or lower than expected.

If you have a type of tumour that raises your hCG level, such as a germ cell tumour, your doctor might use the hCG test to see if treatment is working or if the tumour has come back after treatment.

More information

Visit Lab Tests Online website or Pregnancy, Birth and Baby for more information about hCG tests.

Read our ‘Guide to blood testing’ to learn more about blood tests in general with information such as:

  • what to consider before having the test
  • what happens during a blood test
  • results accuracy
  • blood tests cost.

Last reviewed: September 2016

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germ cell tumours (tumours developing in the testes of males from a sperm cell or in the ovaries of females from an egg cell)

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Week 6 of pregnancy is a time of rapid embryo development and there are also lots of changes occurring for mum. Its an important time to avoid harmful substances which can interfere with the development of babys organs, and obtain antenatal care if you have not already. See the key points about and changes in the sixth week of pregnancy.

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4 weeks pregnant

When you are 4 weeks pregnant your body and your new baby are undergoing rapid changes. The placenta forms and begins producing a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which is the substance a pregnancy test detects to confirm you are pregnant. The cells which are growing into your new baby establish membranes which connect them to the placenta and prepare themselves for differentiation into different types of cells, which will occur next week when you are 5 weeks pregnant. These developments may cause you to experience unusual emotions and also cause changes in your body such as darkening of the areolas of your nipples.

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Pregnancy testing

A pregnancy test checks a woman’s blood or urine for the presence of a substance called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is a hormone made by the placenta.

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Pregnancy tests

If you suspect you are pregnant, you can get a pregnancy test done by a nurse or doctor or first do a home pregnancy test yourself with a kit bought from a pharmacy.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Week by week pregnancy- 6 weeks pregnant

6 weeks pregnant is a time when embryo development is occurring rapidly and pregnant women often start experiencing pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness. Pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), the hormone a pregnancy test detects, is usually evident in the womans blood in the sixth week of pregnancy. Antenatal care should be provided at a doctor appointment for women who have not already checked their pregnancy health. Find out more about the pregnancy changes which occur this week.

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