HCG Levels: What They Tell You About Your Pregnancy

Your pregnancy depends on the hormone HCG—Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. Find out what normal hCG levels are, plus what it means if they’re high or low.

Your pregnancy depends on the hormone HCG—Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. Find out what normal hCG levels are, plus what it means if they're high or low.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is what hCG stands for, but what is it? It’s a hormone, it’s a fascinating science, it’s what gives you a positive pregnancy test, it’s what kicks those early pregnancy symptoms into gear, and it’s not actually that complicated to understand. So let’s dig in and explore what hCG levels do and how they relate to pregnancy.

In this article, we’ll cover some key information about hCG levels, including:

What Are hCG Levels?

In order to fully understand hCG levels, let’s take a look at the earliest stages of pregnancy. Once the egg is fertilized by the sperm, the cells of the egg undergo immediate changes, with cells dividing and dividing, quickly growing into what is called the embryo. The layer of cells that surround the embryo is what produces the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). As the embryo continues to grow, these same cells that produce hCG eventually form into the placenta, which embeds itself into the wall of the uterus.

In normal conditions, hCG signals to the body that a pregnancy is underway, and acts to nourish and protect the developing life. HCG also kickstarts all those lovely first signs of pregnancytender breasts, nausea, and fatigue, to name a few!

How Early Can hCG Be Detected?

This is a common question, because hCG is what at-home pregnancy tests are testing for, and hCG levels can give you information about how your pregnancy is developing.

HCG levels rise during the first trimester and can be detected in the urine as early as 7-11 post fertilization (sometimes even a little bit earlier!). HCG can also be detected via a simple blood test, which is usually how your healthcare provider confirms your pregnancy.

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How Quickly Should hCG Levels Rise?

As early pregnancy progresses, hCG generally doubles every 48 hours, peaking around the 6th to 8th week of pregnancy. HCG levels then start decline and level off (though they are still detectable) for the remainder of the pregnancy.

What Are Normal hcG Levels?

It’s important to note that hCG levels can vary significantly between one person to the next, so “normal” levels are quite subjective but you’ll still see some predictable patterns.

If your hCG level is higher than 25 mIU/ml you’ll get a positive pregnancy testSince levels double every 48-72 hours in the first trimester, the hCG levels should continue to rise. Though the ranges below are not absolute, it’s a good reference point for a single pregnancy. (More on twins below!)

Days from LMP hCG Range for Singleton Pregnancy
28 9.4 – 120
33 300 – 600
36 1, 200 – 1, 800
40 2, 400 – 4, 800
45 12, 000 – 60, 000
70 96, 000 – 144, 000

What Happens If My hCG Levels Don’t Fall Within the “Normal” Range?

Remember, these numbers are just rough guidelines. 

If you are low-risk and there is no concern about the viability of your pregnancy, some providers won’t even test your hCG levels at all. Other providers may test once to make sure your levels appear to be in a “normal” range.

If hCG levels don’t fall within the normal range, your doctor or midwife will likely request a blood test to check your hCG. Here’s what you can expect:

  1. You will have an initial blood test to check hCG levels.
  2. A few days later, you will have a follow-up blood test to see if your levels are rising or falling. (Note: It is common to have as many as 2 to 4 blood tests to measure hCG when trying to diagnose a possible pregnancy complication.)
  3. If the levels are going up, then pregnancy is advancing; if the levels are going down, it could indicate a possible miscarriage, or you could be further along in your pregnancy than you thought. If you take a peek at the chart above, you will see that hCG starts to decline after 13 weeks or so.

Do You Have hCG Levels When Not Pregnant?

Though most women do not have measurable hCG levels when not pregnant, it is possible to have hCG in your body when not pregnant. This can create a false positive on a pregnancy test. Luckily, this is not very common.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you might have measurable hCG levels in your body:

  • Chemical pregnancy: Sometimes a pregnancy occurs briefly, but results in pregnancy loss before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Even though this loss occurred very early on, a woman may have hCG in her body because the cells around the fertilized egg produced enough of the hormone to be detected by a pregnancy test.
  • Pituitary hCG: The pituitary gland is a small structure in the brain that can produce hormones that are structurally similar to hCG. This pituitary hCG can be mistaken for pregnancy hCG, but this is not very common!
  • HCG diet: Who would ever have imagined this pregnancy hormone would go hand-in-hand with a weight loss program? It is not recommended, but hCG can be given by injection or ingested orally by purchasing an over-the-counter pill, spray, drops, or pellets. Combined with a very low-calorie, restricted diet, proponents say hCG “resets the metabolism.”
  • Hormonal imbalanceSome health conditions that affect the endocrine system, like PCOS, germ cell tumors, and trophoblastic disease, can stimulate hCG production in people who aren’t pregnant.

What Does It Mean if Your hCG Levels Are Low?

Low hCG levels are not always a cause for concern.

It could mean that you are testing too early. Most home pregnancy tests have about the same ability to detect hCG, but their ability to show whether or not you pregnant depends on how much hCG you are producing.

Your body begins producing hCG around 7 to 10 days after conception, and pregnancy tests don’t guarantee accuracy until about 11 days after conception. Wait a couple of days and retest if you suspect you may be pregnant.

And some women just have low hCG levels. It’s not common, but some women don’t produce enough hCG to ever get a positive home pregnancy test. If you suspect that you are pregnant, but you are not getting that positive pregnancy test, check in with you doctor for further testing.

Unfortunately, in some cases, low hCG levels can indicate a problem with the pregnancy. Check in with your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about your hCG levels, and try not to lose hope before you’ve completed all the recommended tests.

If hCG levels continue to be low or decline significantly, your doctor or midwife may suspect the following:

  • Miscarriage: If the embryo does not properly develop to form a placenta and a viable fetus, or if the fetus dies, than it is not possible for hCG levels to rise.
  • Blighted ovum: A common reason for an early miscarriage, this happens when a fertilized egg, which starts the process of producing hCG, never actually forms into an embryo. Again, if a placenta never forms, hCG levels will never rise.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: This is when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube, but occasionally in the abdomen. These types of pregnancies are never viable. In fact, if you suspect an ectopic pregnancy, call your doctor or midwife right away—an ectopic pregnancy can be very dangerous, as it could result in a fallopian tube rupture and cause hemorrhaging.

I know personally how devastating miscarriage is. Give yourself plenty of TLC, seek help if you need it, and know that most women will go on to have healthy pregnancies in the future.

What Does It Mean If Your hCG Levels Are High?

More commonly, when hCG levels are high, it usually means that your pregnancy is a little further along than you initially thought. Repeat testing for levels, coupled with an ultrasound, will help you determine where you are at in your pregnancy.

Here are couple more reasons why you might have high hCG:

  • Twins: If there are two or more babies developing, a woman will generally have higher than normal hCG levels. (More on this below!)
  • Molar pregnancy: This rare complication of pregnancy results when there is an abnormality in development following fertilization. This abnormality can result in a very large placenta, a fetus that dies early on in pregnancy, or a placenta with no fetus at all. In any of these situations, the cells are forming abnormally, similar to a tumor, resulting in higher than expected hCG levels.
  • Genetic conditions: Less commonly, very high hCG levels can indicate Down syndrome. 

Twin hCG Levels

Though it’s not possible to identify a twin pregnancy on hCG levels alone—they vary too widely from person to person to be a definitive marker—hCG levels are generally higher in mamas carrying more than one baby. (source)

Compared with singleton pregnancies, hCG and HPL levels were respectively 2.5 and 1.5 times higher throughout gestation. (source)

Days from LMP hCG Range for Multiple Pregnancy
28 9.5 – 120
33 200 – 1, 800
36 2, 400 – 36, 000
40 8, 700 – 108, 000
45 72, 000 – 180, 000
70 348, 000 – 480, 000

How Often Are hCG Levels Checked During Pregnancy?

HCG levels aren’t checked frequently during pregnancy, unless you’ve had a history of miscarriage or are currently questioning the viability of your pregnancy. If you’re low-risk and no problem is suspected, some providers won’t check hCG levels at all.

If there is concern, your doctor or midwife will recommend a blood test every two or three days to see if hCG levels are rising or falling. A single measurement of your hCG level is not useful, but rather just a starting point. To get a clear picture of what is happening in your pregnancy, a series of blood tests, a couple of days apart, needs to be taken and compared to the other values from previous testing.

Some possible reasons for having your hCG levels checked (and rechecked):

  • History of miscarriage
  • Your dating ultrasound and your hCG levels don’t match up
  • You are experiencing severe cramping or bleeding
  • History of ectopic pregnancy or blighted ovum
  • Any indication that your pregnancy is not developing as you would expect in the first trimester


The science behind hCG levels and testing for the presence of this pregnancy hormone can be useful, but it has its limits. It is just one page in the book of pregnancy and doesn’t tell the whole story. If your hCG levels are higher or lower than expected, please know that your doctor or midwife will help you get to the bottom of what is happening for you and your pregnancy.

How About You?

What are your hCG levels like?

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 130,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.


  1. I cannot make sense of what is going on. I went for us, was measuring at about 5w5d no heartbeat but gestational sac of 12.1mm and visible yolk sac. My HCG was 18738 on that same day and my doc didn’t like that there was no heartbeat since HCG was over 10k. My HCG was normally progressing up to that point, but I went for bloodwork 2 days later and it’s only 20811 so it seems to have leveled off. There is so much info about HCG, this doesn’t seem normal but maybe it’s okay since it’s over 6k and rise tends to slow?

  2. I tested at 8 wks 2 days (132,932) and at 8 wks 4 days (130,730). Does the loss of 2,200 points mean a miscarriage is likely…or at eight weeks, has my Hcg plateaued?

  3. I just went for my 8 week ultrasound and it ended up measuring at 5 weeks with no heartbeat. The doctor sent me out to check my HCG levels since I have a history of miscarriages. The HCG level came back at 145,000, which is extremely high for how far along I’m projected to be at. Can the pregnancy be successful?

  4. If my HCG level is a positive 5 should I get retested

  5. based on my lamp i would expect to be 6-7 weeks along, i have had two miscarriages in the past, the second one was just in June. i went today to get blood tested and my levels were only at 845, i go back in two days to get tested again. but is it possible i could just be not as far along as i thought i was. should i start worrying? i’m freaking out and super scared to go back and find out the results wednesday..

    • i meant LMP not lamp!

    • Did you ever find out what was going on? I’m going through the same thing. Should be at 8 weeks since LMP today but they find nothing st the ultrasound and my hcg is only at 1800.

  6. My hcg level is only 600 , does that mean it’s an ectopic pregnancy?

  7. Im 6 weeks pregnant beta HCG 20,042
    Is that normal ? Heart beat per minute 90/115

  8. My lmp was 05/31/22. I took a home pregnancy test on 07/04 and 07/05 both positive. Went to see my ob at 9 weeks and nothing on the vaginal us. My hcg level was 15362 and 48 hours later 16626. Am I pregnant or will I mis carry?

  9. mera 6 week hai mujhe weekly 5000 hcg lena tha by mistake mujhe 10,000 wali lg gyi bachha thik hoga ya kuch bura hone wala?

  10. Your post has been very useful. I have been stressing out because I got my blood test results back last night and my levels are showing 52,613 at only 5/6 weeks. (Ultrasound is scheduled for tomorrow so I am not 100% sure how far along I am, just know I’m not 7 weeks based on my period and all that)

    I have been extremely worried that something is wrong with my high numbers for being so early. I did unfortunately miscarry twins at about 11 weeks 5 years ago and have not been able to get pregnant since so I feel like I am just very worried about everything.

    Any insight anyone has would be helpful!

  11. I just had my hcg levels tested at 6 weeks and they said they are above 100,000! What can that be indicative of?

    • I’m having a very similar situation right now. What happened with your pregnancy?

  12. Not understanding my levels it says 3424 at 5 weeks

  13. I tested hcg level and came back 84, 2 days later is tested again and it was 120. Not sure what is going on

  14. Hi Genevieve! I read your book and just appreciate your tips and knowledge so much ♥️ I am not sure how to know my Hcg levels I just took my pregnancy tests at home and have a midwife so that hasn’t been answered. I’d love to learn more. I also wondered if your High risk how Ultrasound is really important to check on the baby? I have a Vascular condition and never know of any mothers with the same malformation. This requires more support during pregnancy for me whether with OBS or Midwives. I hope to hear from you about your thoughts on this. sincerely, Carmela

  15. Hi, I had an embryo transfer but my blood test yesterday indicating 5.5, so not pregnant. At home pregnancy tests are telling me I’m pregnant, but I’m pretty sure I’m getting my period. Why is it stating I’m pregnant on the tests when I’ve been told under 5 isn’t pregnant and I’m only just above it. Thank you.

  16. Hi, I have had previous miscarriages and a previous eptopic which resulted in my right Fallopian tube being removed. I am pregnant again and my app says I’m 5 weeks today and my blood results have come back this morning with my hcg levels being 600 I am really worried. I had a scan yesterday and they couldn’t see anything but said this might be due to being too early. I have another blood test on two days, should I be worried?

    • HCG can be a wide range of numbers and be considered “normal”–the most important information is how rapidly the number is increasing. There is no reason to be worried at this point! Wait for your scan and your blood test for more information. Sending sticky baby vibes your way!

  17. I am pretty confused i am now 6 weeks 2 days but a few night ago i started bleeding alot and clot we though miscarriage. I went in and got blood work my hcg levels were 57481 at 5 weeks and 6 days then 48 hours later retested and at 6 weeks 1 day levels are 92345 also did a ultrasound and baby measures 6 weeks and 1 day as well and had a heartbeat couldn’tbe heard but seen about 118bpm . I am trying to figure out while my hcg levels would be so high anyone else? Of.course its the weekend so can’t ask a dr yet

    • High HCG levels are actually very reassuring! Sometimes they can be very high in early pregnancy–and a heartrate that early can be lower than you’d expect it to be. All sounds normal, but obviously, we are not qualified to say for sure as that should be left up to your doctor! Here’s to a lovely and enjoyable pregnancy!

  18. I am 6 weeks along calculating from my LMC, my hcg level is 2683 and my doctor is worried it is an ectopic pregnant. I have had no pain or bleeding but it took 3 days for my levels to go from 878 to 2683, she said that isn’t normal doubling time. Does this mean I am going to miscarry?? I just want to be prepared.

    • That is actually normal. Your HCG should double every two to three days in early pregnancy.

  19. i went to doctor cause i was hurting !! i took a pregnancy test at home , it was postive!! they drew my hcg an it was only 45!!!! anyone else have this problem or know what it means !!!

    • What did you find out?!

  20. Hello, I am 5 weeks and 3 days. My hcg levels were doubling every 48 hours but we noticed that it was extremely high at the time to be only a few weeks pregnant. Once I reached 10,000 hcg, the next day it dropped significantly to the 2 thousands. Is this a sign of a miscarriage? (They ruled out ectopic pregnancy)

    • What does you provider think?

    • Hi, what happened? I’m curious Bc mine is 1923 and I’m only 4 weeks pregnant.

      • I’m 4 weeks and mine is only 267

        • Mine is 515 at 5 weeks

          • I tested at 8 wks 2 days (132,932) and at 8 wks 4 days (130,730). Does the loss of 2,200 points mean a miscarriage is likely…or at eight weeks, has my Hcg plateaued?

        • I am 4w2d and mine are 348.3. Is that normal for levels. I go back Monday for another blood draw.

        • Was everything ok with your pregnancy ?

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