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Beta HCG: Understand the result of the pregnancy test

Beta HCG: Understand the result of the pregnancy test

Beta HCG is a hormone produced by the body during pregnancy by placental precursor cells. It is a component of HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin), pregnancy-specific hormone. Therefore, this test is used for the diagnosis of gestation.

In the laboratory beta HCG test the blood levels of this hormone are measured, making the test even more sensitive than the pharmacy pregnancy test, being able to detect quantities beta HCG. In addition, the blood test allows a quantitative result, in which the concentration of this hormone in the body is also measured, which may help to verify if the pregnancy is going well.

Indications of the beta HCG

The examination of beta HCG is mainly used for pregnancy detection. However, it may also be useful for checking the progress of this pregnancy if the doctor is suspicious of a problem. For example, if the mother has bleeding or if the doctor suspects an ectopic pregnancy (ie, the tubes) during the ultrasound, she can request a repeat test in the same laboratory to check if the amount of the hormone is which usually doubles in number every 48 hours.

Furthermore, beta HCG can also be used in the diagnosis of some tumors that originate in gestation, such as hydatidiform mole, since they also produce this hormone. In such cases, as the treatment is done, it must remain undetectable for at least one year. In addition, the beta HCG test may be positive in some testicle and ovarian tumors and may be used as a marker in these cases.

When should the test be done?

The blood beta HCG test is more sensitive than the pharmacy pregnancy test, so it can detect the pregnancy even before the menstrual delay. However, if the woman is suspicious of pregnancy but did the test before the menstruation delay, the test may fail to detect the beta HCG in the body and give false negative. In these cases, it is best to repeat the test once more if the menses really delay.

HCG beta result

The result of the HCG beta blood test is expressed in quantitative form, that is, with the measurements of concentration of the hormone in the blood. Usually the values ​​are very variable and change from woman to woman and laboratory to laboratory according to the measurement method they use. That is, two women with the same gestational age can take the exam in the same place and have different results. Or the same woman can do the test in two laboratories and have different hormone concentrations. However, in most laboratories, when the result is above 5 IU / L, the test is positive and the woman is pregnant. The amounts of the hormone are most important for medical evaluation.

Beta HCG may give false positive?

It is very rare for the beta HCG test to give false positive, but this can happen when the woman has some ovarian tumor or of embryonic origin, or if it uses any medicine containing beta HCG.

Can beta-HCG be false negative?

The test can only give false negative if it is done very early, ie before the menstrual delay of fact. This is because even though the embryo is already forming, sometimes the amount of hormone that has been released in the body is still very low.

Is the amount of beta-HCG able to indicate the time of gestation?

It is a fact that the amount of beta-HCG increases progressively throughout the pregnancy. However, as this growth is variable in every woman it is very difficult to use the beta HCG to know the time of gestation. The ideal is that as soon as the positive result of the examination is gone, the pregnant woman will seek a gynecologist to perform the first ultrasound, because it is in this examination that the specialist can determine the time of pregnancy, in addition to verify if everything is well with the fetus and if gestation is occurring even in the womb.

Can beta-HCG indicate if there is a twin pregnancy?

Beta HCG may be higher when pregnancy is twin and babies are developing in two different placentas. However, this should be better checked on the ultrasound examination, which should be done as soon as the positive result of the beta HCG comes out. This way, the gynecologist can see more clearly if they are twins, if they are in the same placenta (which asks for more observation during pregnancy) and if everything else is going well in the gestation.

Beta HCG blood test pregnancy

HCG beta test done in the laboratory usually measures blood levels, while pharmacy pregnancy tests measure the hormone in the urine. With this, beta HCG can be more sensitive, measuring not only whether the woman is pregnant, but also the amount of circulating hormone, which may be useful to the doctor to check how the pregnancy is going.

Although today urine beta-HCG tests are increasingly sensitive, blood testing is still the official confirmation of pregnancy because of its greater sensitivity and also for safer results from the first day of the menstrual period. which can affect the outcome of the beta HCG

Beta HCG levels in the body can be altered when the woman has an ovarian or embryonic tumor, or if she uses any medicine containing beta HCG.


There is no special recommendation for performing a beta HCG. You may eat and drink normally before and after the test.

How the beta HCG is done

In a hospital or laboratory, the beta HCG is performed by a health care professional as follows:

With the patient sitting, a rubber band is tied around his arm to stop the flow of blood. This causes the veins to become wider, helping the practitioner hit one of them.

The professional cleans the arm area to be penetrated by the needle.

  • The needle is inserted into the vein. This procedure can be done more than once until the health care provider hits the vein and is able to remove the blood.
  • Blood collected in the syringe and placed in a tube
  • The elastic is removed and a gauze is placed on the where the health professional inserted the needle, to prevent any bleeding. He or she can put pressure on the bandage to staunch blood
  • A bandage is placed on the spot.
  • Examination time
  • Beta HCG takes a few minutes to complete.


There are no special recommendations after the examination. The patient can perform his activities normally.

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