What Level Of HCG Causes Morning Sickness?

Although, HCG levels have been linked to nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy, it should not be considered the only culprit for it. Protective evolutionary mechanism, estrogen levels and family history may also have a role to play in morning sickness. The sense of smell and taste are really heightened in pregnant women. Anything that a woman tastes or smells or finds repulsive leads to nausea reflux, preventing her from eating that food; the food that might be bad for the fetus. All the foods that trigger such reflexes are best avoided and these trigger act as a protective mechanism for the unborn child. Not only does a woman have repulsive triggers towards various foods, they can also have cravings for certain foods. For example, they can have craving for sour foods, sweet foods, fruits or vegetables. Most women have cravings for carbohydrates and proteins and some even have craving for fish. To avoid morning sickness, it is of utmost importance to make lifestyle changes with diet.

What Level Of HCG Causes Morning Sickness?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (b-HCG) is a hormone that is made by fertilized egg or placenta. HCG levels can be detected in blood 2-3 days earlier than urine test. The levels of HCG vary in all women as all have unique placentas. HCG level of 5 mlU/ml is considered negative for pregnancy; while above 25 mlU/ml is considered positive for pregnancy. Elevated HCG levels are associated with morning sickness as it is believed to stimulate area of the brain responsible for nausea. The early symptoms of nausea and vomiting are the reason for many women to consider urine pregnancy test.

HCG levels double every 48-72 hours and they peak at about 10 weeks (ranging from 8-12 weeks) of gestation, after which they begin to decrease. Although, it is tough to tell at what level HCG starts causing morning sickness because every woman’s body responds differently to increased levels of HCG. Some have early symptoms of nausea and vomiting that they have to take a pregnancy test to confirm their pregnancy; while others get symptoms as late as 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. The symptoms are worse when the levels of HCG hormone peak, i.e. around 8-12 weeks after which the levels begin to drop until 14-16 weeks of pregnancy, after which the levels plateau. Yet, there are other women who never experience the symptoms of nausea and vomiting during their entire pregnancy.

The chart below gives an estimate of a wide range of HCG levels during pregnancy.

Weeks from last menstrual period (LMP)HCG levels (mlU/ml)
3 weeks5-50
4 weeks5-426
5 weeks18-7,340
6 weeks1,080-56,500
7-8 weeks7,650-229,000
9-12 weeks25,700-288,000
13-16 weeks13,300-254,000
17-24 weeks (second trimester)4,060-165,400
25 weeks until term (third trimester)3,640-117,000
Non-pregnant women 

Of note. The above chart is just for reference and the values may differ from women to women, so the chart should not be considered absolute mark of the hormone levels.

No single HCG count is of any help as there is so much variation in the counts that one count tells nothing about the pregnancy. The HCG counts in the beginning of the pregnancy are very important as these counts determine whether a pregnancy is healthy or not. The numbers should double as the trend goes. Even if a woman is bleeding, but the HCG counts double, there is nothing to worry about as the pregnancy is still healthy. Sometimes, the pregnancy trend can be abnormal, such as when they rise at a lower rate and decline or plateau may indicate an ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.

Higher levels of HCG can be related to more than one fetus and on occasions relate to molar pregnancy. HCG levels alone are not used to determine the gestational age of the embryo due to their varying range and different measurement in different women. Hence, along with HCG level testing, a transvaginal ultrasound can be done when HCG levels range from 1000-2000 mlU/ml.

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