Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

hCG test

4-minute read

Key facts

  • The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) test is also known as the pregnancy test.
  • The hCG test can be a blood or urine test.
  • The hCG test can be done to detect and monitor pregnancy.
  • It can also be used to detect and monitor some types of cancer.

What is being tested?

The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) test is also known as the pregnancy test. This test measures the amount of the hormone hCG in your urine or blood.

The hCG test can be used to both confirm and monitor a pregnancy. hCG is usually present only when a female is pregnant.

hCG starts being produced by the placenta after the fertilised egg implants in the womb. During pregnancy, the amount of hCG doubles every 2 to 3 days.

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

The hCG blood test may detect pregnancy earlier — from about 1 week after conception. Your doctor can refer you for this blood test.

Why would I need this test?

The hCG blood test is more sensitive than the urine test. Your doctor might use this to:

  • check if you are pregnant
  • confirm a positive urine hCG test
  • check that your pregnancy is developing normally

Blood hCG tests are also used to detect tumours that can produce hCG, such as:

Blood hCG tests can monitor these tumours. This can help your doctor see if treatment is working or if the tumour has come back after treatment.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How to prepare for this test

No special preparation is required for the hCG test. However, if you are having a urine test, try not to drink much before your test. This can dilute your urine sample and cause a false negative result.

Understanding my results

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

If you have a tumour that increases your hCG level:

  • an increase in your hCG test result would suggest that the tumour is getting bigger
  • a decrease in your hCG test result would suggest that the tumour is getting smaller

Resources and support

Visit the Pathology Tests Explained 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 on:

  • what to consider before having the test
  • what happens during a blood test
  • the accuracy of your results
  • the costs of your blood tests

You can learn more in our article about urine tests.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) | Pathology Tests Explained

hCG is a protein hormone produced in the placenta of a pregnant woman. A pregnancy test is a specific blood or urine test that can detect hCG and confirm pre

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Pregnancy testing -

Pregnancy testing can be done from around the time that your period is due, and involves testing your urine for the pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

Read more on myDr website

hCG levels

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that is found in your urine and blood when you're pregnant. Find out more about hCG here.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy tests

Find out how a home pregnancy test works, how soon a test will read positive and what to do if your pregnancy test shows that you are pregnant.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy testing - Better Health Channel

Sometimes, a home pregnancy test may be positive when a woman isn’t pregnant.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Molar pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is a type of pregnancy where a baby does not develop. A molar pregnancy can be either complete or partial.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Molar pregnancy - Better Health Channel

Most molar pregnancies are diagnosed when bleeding early in pregnancy prompts an ultrasound scan.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Pregnancy testing options -

Testing for pregnancy and ovulation is simple using home pregnancy and ovulation test kits, which give results that are about 99% accurate. Find out what pregnancy and ovulation testing kits are available.

Read more on myDr website

Maternal screening | Pathology Tests Explained

The maternal serum screening tests involve the measurement of different pregnancy-associated hormones, which are found in all pregnancies. 

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Bleeding during pregnancy

Bleeding during pregnancy is relatively common, however you should always contact your midwife or doctor immediately if it happens to you.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.