Your pregnancy test shows a positive result, making you happy but nervous at the same time. You will notice every change in your body during pregnancy and think if it affects your baby.
HCG levels dropped then went back up can be a big concern to you during your first trimester.
hCG levels dropping at 5 weeks pregnant is possible, but what does it indicate? Let’s see what doctors will consult you in this situation?
What Is hCG?
What Is It?
HCG is the short abbreviation of human Chorionic Gonadotropin. It’s a type of female hormone that is secreted during the stages of pregnancy.
After the fertilization and implantation of the egg inside the uterus, the placental cells are formed and start to produce the hormone.
How did you find out you were pregnant? This hormone is the first sign of gestation. There’s a way to determine it by taking a blood test 11 days after the conception.
The most common way to find out that you are pregnant is using the home pregnancy test, which detects the hormone in your urine 12 to 14 days after conception (equal to four weeks of pregnancy).
hCG Level In Pregnancy
You can take a blood test to confirm positive pregnancy or false positives since the test can show the hCG level. If it doesn’t, normally, it means that you are not pregnant.
However, there can be a chance that you take the test too early, so the result comes out before your hormones rise.
Usually, when the result is higher than 5mIU/mL, you can be assumed pregnant. This level changes dramatically from time to time during gestation.
Your doctor sees your first test result as a baseline; from that, he can look for terminology called doubling time.
Potential moms will experience the level rise by two times every two to three days of the first four weeks after conception, and this number will be 96 times after six weeks.
hCG Level In Miscarriage
One of the signs indicating miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy is you don’t have doubled levels.
That’s why after taking the first blood test for 48-72 hours, you need to return to the lab for another one.
The medical professional will see if your result is double compared to the baseline.
If your test doesn’t show the expected result, you might be at risk of a nonviable pregnancy. However, the test is not the only factor determining the abnormal situation.
Sometimes, moms with tubal pregnancy also have doubled hCG or some with dropping hCG levels but still pregnant.
The normal levels are as below:
|Weeks from the last menstrual period||hCG level (mIU/mL)|
It’s said that if the figure is less than 5mIU/mL, you are not pregnant. When it is higher, it can be a good sign.
However, the table above is the general range for your reference.
Since every woman is different and every pregnancy is not the same (even in the same mom), the hormone level may vary a lot.
Also, the blood sample only means a little unless you take two tests in a row within a 2-day period, it can show the progress of pregnancy better.
So, can hCG levels drop and then rise again? Scroll down for the answer.
hCG Levels Dropped Then Went Back Up – Is It Possible?
Can hCG level drop then rise in early pregnancy? Yes, though it’s uncommon, it is possible to happen.
Some pregnant women can experience the phenomenon without affecting their normal pregnancy. The decrease can be a concern in the first trimester rather than in the second or third one.
What Causes Low hCG Level?
The first reason for the case is miscalculated due date. The due date is determined by your last period.
However, you remember the date of your last period incorrectly, leading to the hormone being lower than expected.
It’s also quite common for women to have irregular menstrual cycles, so it’s difficult to calculate the baby’s gestational date exactly.
Secondly, if the levels don’t rise or even decrease in the early trimester, it can indicate a miscarriage.
Besides, other symptoms such as abdominal pain or virginal bleeding can come together with this sign.
The third cause you can think of is the blighted ovum, a common reason for miscarriage in the first 1-3 months.
Since the hormone doesn’t increase, the fertilized egg attached to the uterus can not transform into an embryo.
Although it’s rare, this situation is also a hint of ectopic pregnancy, a dangerous condition when the embryo implants outside of the uterus (typically, in the fallopian tube).
The patient may have vaginal spotting or pelvic pain as well.
Does Decreasing HCG Always Mean Miscarriage?
A decrease after a successful pregnancy test generally means a not-so-good outlook, and the conclusion can be nonviable pregnancy.
The drop after the baseline test couple days (2-3 days) indicates the body doesn’t support enough hormones for the embryo to grow.
There might be a possibility of a lab mistake, or the result is affected by ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) due to the fertility treatments.
Doctors will consider your cramping and irregular bleeding symptoms as well, if there are any.
Suppose you have dropping hCG levels in early pregnancy no bleeding.
In that case, you may need to do other tests such as progesterone tests or take a transvaginal ultrasound to see the gestational sac inside your uterus.
Slow Rise HCG And Miscarriage
Can hCG levels decrease then increase slowly? Yes. The slow rise can hint that the time of miscarriage may happen soon (nonviable uterine pregnancy) or the egg implants on the uterine wall (non-uterine pregnancy).
However, it can not be confirmed 100% until you take other tests.
The double baseline is a means to determine viable pregnancy and just a guide for the next step in case of abnormal results.
Plus, every woman is different, and the slow-growing level does not necessarily mean an impending miscarriage.
For example, some who already have a high baseline of 5000mIU/mL tend to have less chance to increase than those with lower baseline results.
Plus, carrying twins or triplets also affects the rate of rise. So, there is a standard range; if yours doesn’t fall into it, you might need more tests to confirm the situation.
How Do Doctors Confirm The Miscarriage?
If your fetus is only at a very early age, checking the hormone level is the only way to diagnose pregnancy loss.
Also, the doctor will consider other symptoms such as abnormal bleeding and pelvic cramping to conclude.
A doctor can’t confirm it based on one symptom; there are some medical testing need to be done:
- Blood test (to check the hCG and progesterone)
- Pelvic exam and vaginal ultrasound examinations
- The fetal heart scan can be conducted if your fetus has already had a heartbeat.
The Bottom Lines
HCG levels dropped then went back up is rarely seen, but it doesn’t mean it can not happen. Some women experience the phenomenon but still have a healthy pregnancy.
Take all the required tests and provide doctors with your symptoms (heavy bleeding, high blood pressure, severe pain, etc.) for a better conclusion.
If it’s a negative scenario, be patient and try to relax. Preparing your body in the best condition is very important for your next conception.
We wish you good health, and the sweet fruit of future pregnancies will come to you soon.