Have you missed your periods this month? This might be an indication of pregnancy.
To confirm whether you are pregnant or not you can take up Beta HCG test.
You must be wondering what is Beta HCG test.
Well, in this article I will discuss the following points in detail so that you understand the use of the beta hCG test in detecting pregnancy.
- Beta HCG Test: An Insight
- Types of Beta HCG Tests: A Quick Overview
- Beta HCG Test Results: What Do They Mean?
Beta HCG Test: An Insight
Beta hCG test is basically used to detect pregnancy. But its clinical importance does not end here. It is also used:
- To determine the age of the pregnancy (gestational age).
- To detect genetic diseases in the developing fetus like down syndrome.
- To detect potential miscarriage.
- To detect ectopic pregnancy.
Apart from pregnancy-related factors, the beta hCG test is used for non-pregnancy related health conditions. The beta hCG is known as a tumor marker as it can help diagnose certain types of cancer like
The beta hCG test is used in non-cancerous medical conditions like
- To detect cirrhosis
- To detect ulcers
- To determine Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)
The beta hCG test is not only used for women it is also used for men to detect testicular cancer. If a man complains about lumping any of his testicles or both, then the doctor recommends a beta hCG test. Beta hCG is present in the bloodstream in males.
Since we are talking about the beta hCG test why not discuss in brief beta hCG and how it helps during pregnancy?
Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is a hormone famously known as pregnancy hormone that is secreted by the placenta in the early days of pregnancy. After the fertilization of the egg (ovum), the fertilized egg travels down to the uterus and attaches to the wall of the uterus. This triggers the formation of the placenta. Then the placenta starts secreting hCG in the blood and urine.
Once the hormone hCG is produced then it triggers the body to produce estrogen and progesterone. All these hormones that are hCG, estrogen, and progesterone stop menstruation in women and thicken the uterine lining to support the baby in the womb.
The level of hCG hormone increases during pregnancy and is actively present in the bloodstream in the initial days and then becomes present in urine also. It can be detected by a blood test about 11 days after conception and about 12-14 days after conception by a urine test.
Types of Beta HCG Tests: A Quick Overview
There are two types of beta hCG tests:
- Qualitative testing
- Quantitative testing
This test is also known as an over-the-counter urine pregnancy test. This test only tells if the beta hCG hormone is present in the urine or not. But the qualitative test does not provide you the information about pregnancy age and the amount of beta hCG hormone. Qualitative testing is only capable of detecting the beta hCG hormone.
Quantitative testing is famously known as serum beta hCG test and beta hCG blood test. This test is performed after the qualitative test which measures the amount of beta hCG hormone present in the blood. This test helps to know the age of the pregnancy depending on the amount of hormone present in the blood.
The serum beta hCG test also helps to determine abnormal pregnancies like ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, and possible miscarriage. It also helps to detect genetic abnormalities of the fetus like down syndrome.
Note: In case of ectopic pregnancy the test results come positive. This medical condition is very serious and harmful that requires immediate medical treatment.
The beta hCG blood test is requested by the doctor not once but multiple times during the pregnancy to check the level of the beta hCG hormone.