The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) hormone is generally associated with conception and pregnancy. It is the hormone secreted by the placenta shortly after conception, and it is the same hormone used in pregnancy testing kits to determine pregnancy. Under normal circumstances, HCG is only produced and secreted by the body when a woman becomes pregnant.
HCG is used in fertility treatments in combination with other hormones or the fertility drug clomiphene.It is used alone in the ovulation induction phase involving Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
To stimulate the development of eggs in the ovaries, women with low hormone levels or those who are not ovulating are injected with gonadotropins in the early phase of their monthly cycle.Daily shots of human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) or human follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH)are administered for around 12 daysstarting on the second day of the menstrual cycle during which time the woman is closely monitored. A transvaginal ultrasound is used to monitor the egg’s growth inside tiny sacs or follicles. Blood samples are also drawn frequently to check estrogen production.
If the treatment is successful, mature follicles will develop and this signals the readiness of the ovary to ovulate, for more information visit URL. A single dose of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is then given to stimulate ovulation which is expected to occur approximately after 36 hours. This allows the doctor to strategically manage intrauterine insemination or schedule retrieval of oocytes for in vitro fertilization.Insemination or egg retrieval is typically set at the time closest to the 36th hour marker to maximize maturation prior to ovulation. Out of 100 women who undergo gonadotropin-HCG therapy, 30-60 cases result in pregnancy. Of this, up to 35% suffer miscarriage.
HCG can be used after treatment with Clomiphene, an oral medication prescribed to induce follicular development, to assist in stimulating ovulation.
In men, low sperm count caused by low testosterone levels is treated by stimulating testosterone production through HCG injections. A regular treatment routine consists of 3 weekly shots until normal blood testosterone level is reached. This could take from 4-6 months and vary from patient to patient. Weekly HCG injection is then adjusted to 2 times weekly and combined with human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) until normal sperm count is achieved.
Depending on the brand, HCG is administered either through intramuscular or subcutaneous injection.
As with any medication, side effects can occur with HCG use.
Women undergoing HCG fertility treatments are at risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Around 25% of these women experience mild forms of the syndrome which usually last for a week or longer, if conception occurs. Mild OHSS symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating and a sensation of tenderness. Very few suffer from the severe form. Symptoms range from acute pain in the abdominal area and discoloured urine to serious breathing problems.
A slight weight gain may be expected when a patient starts treatment with hCG and this can be attributed to fluid retention. Edema can also occur and the swelling may give the appearance of weight increase. While a minor gain in weight is common, abrupt and extreme gains are a cause for concern as these could indicate OHSS.
Swelling, tenderness, and a sensation of pain in the breast may be experienced as well. This can be traced to the fact that HCG is a reproduction-related hormone. These side effects are expected to end as soon as the body is able to adjust to the HCG shots.
Lastly, HCG shots can alter hormonal balance in the body which affect moods and mental conditions. It’s not unusual for patients receiving HCG treatment to experience depression, irritability, or restlessness